US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Wednesday for an open and transparent dialogue in Egypt amid a deepening political crisis over sweeping powers adopted by President Mohamed Morsi.
"The upheaval we are seeing now once again in the streets of Cairo and other cities indicates that dialogue is urgently needed," Clinton told journalists at the end of a two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
"It needs to be two-way dialogue," she insisted after tens of thousands of protestors encircled the presidential palace in Cairo.
"Not one side talking at another side, but actual respectful exchanges of views and concerns among Egyptians themselves about the constitutional process and the substance of the constitution," Clinton said.
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"We call on all stake-holders in Egypt to settle their differences through democratic dialogue. And we call on Egypt's leaders to ensure that the outcome protects the democratic promise of the revolution for all of Egypt's citizens."
Islamist Morsi is locked in a showdown with opposition parties after he issued a decree last month adopting significant powers as he seeks to push through a new constitution.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested Tuesday at the gates of Morsi's palace -- with some camping out for the night -- demanding his ouster in scenes not witnessed even during demonstrations that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Clinton said the Egyptian people deserved a "constitution that protects the rights of all Egyptians, men and women, Muslim and Christian".
She also called for "Egypt's courts be allowed to function during this period".