Washington: Expressing serious concern about continued violence in Egypt, the White House has asked the Egyptian security forces to respect and protect the universal rights of its people.

"We remain deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt. We again reiterate the need for Egyptian security forces to respect and protect the universal rights of all Egyptians, including the rights to peaceful free expression and assembly, "White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"Egyptian authorities should also hold accountable those, including the security forces, who violate these standards," he said in response to a question.

"The beauty of the revolutionary aspirations that everyone watched unfold in Tahrir Square, the restraint of the security forces in how they responded, all of that was very promising, and it was held up by the Egyptian people as what a new Egypt would look like," he said.

Carney said the US "Continue to support a timely, inclusive and credible transition to full democracy that lives up to this promise".

The State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, also said that the US wants Egypt to exercise restraint while dealing with peaceful protestors.

"We expect the Egyptian authorities to exercise appropriate restraint. And to the degree that demonstrators are peaceful, they should be allowed to demonstrate peacefully," she said.

"We have been very, very clear all the way through with regard to Egypt that freedom of the media is an absolute necessity in this situation. With regard to the arrest of American journalists, the Embassy was involved in securing the release there, and we made clear how we feel about these things," Nuland said.