Middle East

Obama urges Egyptian leader to protect democratic principles

President Barack Obama urged Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi to protect democratic principles in Egypt and work to build political consensus as he prepares for parliamentary elections.

Obama and Mursi spoke by telephone on Tuesday, a White House statement said.

Liberal and leftist parties in Egypt have vowed to boycott the parliamentary elections to protest against a law they say favors Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.

This has raised the prospect of an election fought mostly between the Muslim Brotherhood and more hardline Islamist groups. The elections are planned in four stages between late April and June.

``The president welcomed President Mursi's commitment to serving as a president for all Egyptians, including women and people of all faiths, and emphasized President Mursi's responsibility to protect the democratic principles that the Egyptian people fought so hard to secure,'' the White House said.

Obama encouraged Mursi and all political groups within Egypt, to try to build consensus and advance the political transition, according to the statement.

The two leaders also discussed Egypt's economic situation and efforts to advance regional peace and maintain a ceasefire in Gaza.