The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says he pleaded with Egypt's ruling generals to resolve the crisis with the United States.
Egypt is holding at least 16 Americans on charges of trying to create unrest in the north African country, including the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and some two dozen other employees of pro-democracy nonprofit groups.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he spent a day and a half talking with Egypt's generals.
"I am convinced that potentially they were underestimating the impact of this on our relationship," he told the committee.
"When I left there, there was no doubt that they understood the seriousness of it," Dempsey said.
Some members of Congress have talked about withholding American aid to Egypt. The country receives $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid and about $250 million in economic assistance every year in accordance to an American-mediated 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is pushing an amendment that would cut off U.S. assistance to Egypt unless it releases the Americans.