"We have said we share the democratic aspirations and criticism of the Morsi government that led millions of Egyptians into the streets," McCain told reporters in a joint press appearance in Cairo with fellow Senator Lindsey Graham. "We've also said that the circumstances of [Morsi's] removal was a coup. This was a transition of power not by the ballot box." McCain's description comes at odds with the stance of the US administration which had delicately avoided using the term for the July 3 military intervention. The Egyptian Presidency has rejected McCain's statements as "clumsy". "President Adly Mansour denounces McCain's statements and see them unacceptable interference in Egypt's internal affairs," his media adviser Ahmed al-Meslimani said late Tuesday. "John McCain is twisting facts and his statements are totally rejected," he added. Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was ousted by the powerful army after mass demonstrations against his regime. "What happens in Egypt in the coming weeks is very, very critical and will have a decisive impact on this country and in the Middle East as well," McCain said. The two US senators called for national dialogue in Egypt to resolve the crisis triggered by Morsi's removal. "We have urged the release of political prisoners. We have urged a national dialogue that is inclusive of all parties that renounce the use of violence. We have strongly urged a set timetable for amendment of the constitution, elections for the parliament, followed by elections for the presidency," McCain said.
"We are confident that Egypt can still serve as a model of inclusive democracy that can inspire this region and the world, and we will continue to support our friends here every step of the way," he added.
The two Republican senators concluded a two-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday for talks with Egyptian officials on political developments in the country.
They met Tuesday with Vice-President for International Relations Mohamed ElBaradei, army chief and Defense Minister Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi.
McCain said that they were not here to negotiate with Egyptian leaders but to urge them as "longtime friends" to avoid further violence and chaos.
"We are here to move forward," the Republican senator said.
"The events that have taken place. We want to express our support, our friendship, our appreciation and our knowledge of how important Egypt is to the world."
Cairo has been abuzz with diplomatic activity in recent days, with officials coming from different continents for talks aimed at resolving Egypt's political impasse.
Ever since his ouster, pro-Morsi demonstrators have been staging daily mass rallies and sit-ins nationwide to demand his reinstatement.
"Democracy is the only viable path to lasting stability," McCain said.
"That means more than elections -- it means democratic governance, an inclusive political process in which all Egyptians are free to participate."
Senator Graham said the release of detainees would help render efforts aimed at resolving the crisis successful.
"The people who are in charge were not elected. The people who were elected are in jail. The status quo is not acceptable."
The two US senators said that it would be wrong to cut off US military aid to Egypt, worth some $1.5 billion a year, following Morsi's ouster.
"Cutting off aid would be the wrong signal at the wrong time," McCain said.
Describing Egypt as "the heart and soul of the Arab world", Graham said Egypt is one of the "best investments" that America can make in the Middle East, warning that a failed Egyptian state is his "worst nightmare".
"We need progress, we need transition, and we need it soon," he added.