Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally.
The president was speaking with reference to violent clashes at the US embassy in Cairo, over a US-made anti-Islamic film which has sparked anger among Muslims.
Barack Obama’s comments also came after the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the US ambassador on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama referred to US-Egypt relations as a “work in progress”.
Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally
“I don’t think we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They are a new government that is trying to find its way,” Barack Obama said in a television interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo.
He said that so far Egypt’s government has “said the right thing and taken the right steps” but it has also responded to other events in ways that “may not be aligned with our interests”.
Barack Obama also said that he expected Egypt to protect the US embassy and its staff.
“If they take actions that indicate they are not taking those responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a problem,” he said.
Egypt was a close and vital Middle East ally of the United States while ousted President Hosni Mubarak was in power.
Cairo has been key US ally since 1979 Egypt-Israel peace deal, and the US gives more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt every year.
After last year’s uprising and the resurgence of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, question marks have been raised over the future of the relationship.
Angry anti-US protests have taken place across the Middle East and North Africa.
The grounds of the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa were briefly stormed by protesters on Thursday.
On Wednesday, demonstrators in Cairo angry at the film – Innocence of Muslims – breached the walls of the US embassy and tore down the flag. The clashes, which began on Tuesday, continued in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Egypt’s interior ministry says 16 people were injured overnight – 13 of them members of the security forces. Two police vehicles were burnt out and 12 protesters were arrested.
President Mohamed Mursi has appealed for calm: “I call on everyone to take that into consideration, to not violate Egyptian law… to not assault embassies.”
“I condemn and oppose all who… insult our prophet. [But] it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad,” he said in a statement broadcast by state media.
In July US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Mohamed Mursi for the first time and reaffirmed Washington’s “strong support” for the Egyptian people and their shift to civilian rule.
President Barack Obama has confirmed that US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, is among four Americans killed in an attack on the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
Unidentified armed men stormed the grounds on Tuesday night in a protest over a US-produced film that is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.
They shot at buildings and threw handmade bombs into the compound.
Protesters also attacked the US embassy in Cairo over the film.
In a statement, Barack Obama condemned the “outrageous attack” on the facility in Benghazi.
US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, is among four Americans killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi
“Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi,” he said.
President Barack Obama also ordered a tightening of security at US diplomatic posts around the globe.
A second US man killed in the attack was named as Sean Smith, a father of two who was employed as an information management officer.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Sean Smith as “one of the best”.
The names of the remaining two victims have not yet been released.
It is not yet clear how the four died.
Hillary Clinton said of Christopher Stevens: “Chris was committed to advancing America’s values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger.”
The killings were also condemned by the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur.
“I condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest possible terms. This is an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere,” he said on the social networking site Twitter.
Reports say a militia known as the Ansar al-Sharia brigade was involved in the attack, but the group has denied the claim.
Many people are still armed following the conflict that overthrew Col. Muammar Gaddafi last year.
Analysts say the attack will raise serious new concerns about stability in the country and the ability of the new Libyan administration to maintain security.
Other countries will be wondering whether their consular staff is safe in Libya, they say.
The film that sparked the demonstration is said to have been produced by a 52-year-old US citizen from California named Sam Bacile, and promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Copt.
The two men are described as having anti-Islamic views.
A trailer of the low-budget movie, which correspondents say is highly provocative and insulting to Muslims, has appeared on YouTube translated into Arabic.
There are real fears that protests over the video could spread.
A demonstration in Cairo on Tuesday saw protesters breach the US embassy and tear down the US flag, which was flying at half mast to mark the 9/11 attacks.
They condemned what they said was the humiliation of the Prophet of Islam under the pretext of freedom of speech.