U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Saturday called Egyptian Minister of Defense Abdul Fatah al-Sisi on Egypt's recent crackdown on protests, according to a Pentagon statement, Xinhua reported.
Hagel "expressed U.S. concerns over the recent enactment of a law restricting demonstrations and protests including the arrest of a group of Egyptian girls and political activists," said the statement.
Egypt enacted a controversial law a week ago, restricting public protests. A court in Alexandria also sentenced 21 young female protesters to 11 years in prison on Wednesday. The protesters, seven of whom are teenagers, were accused of taking part in a violent protest in October.
Hagel noted that the Egyptian government's response to free expression will demonstrate the interim government's commitment to a non-violent, inclusive and sustainable democratic transition.
Hagel and Sisi also discussed the status of the constitution and plans for a constitutional referendum. They also discussed counter terrorism, border and maritime security, and regional security issues, including Syria and Iran, according to Pentagon.