CAIRO Egypt's military on Saturday urged rival political forces to solve their disputes via dialogue and said the opposite would drag the country into a "dark tunnel", which it would not allow.
A statement issued by the military spokesman and read on state radio and television made no mention of President Mohamed Mursi, but said a solution to the political crisis should not contradict "legitimacy and the rules of democracy".
The spokesman said the military's duty was to protect national interests and secure vital state institutions.
"The armed forces ... realise their responsibility to preserve the higher interests of the country and to secure and protect vital targets, public institutions and the interests of innocent citizens," the statement said.
"The armed forces affirm that dialogue is the best and only way to reach consensus," it added. "The opposite of that will bring us to a dark tunnel that will result in catastrophe and that is something we will not allow."
The statement said Egyptians were capable of expressing their views peacefully "far from all displays of violence".
(Reporting by Tamim Elyan; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Edmund Blair)