US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Washington's will consider resuming military aid to Egypt "on the basis of performance" that encourages democracy through elections.
The US suspended some of its $1.5bn in annual military aid on Wednesday, but Kerry said on Thursday the deliveries could resume if Cairo moves to restore civilian rule.
"So this would be on the basis of performance," he said during a visit to Malaysia. "By no means is this a withdrawal from our relationship or a severing of our serious commitment to helping the government" transition to democracy, he added.
The decision on Wednesday suspends shipments of some large-scale military systems, as well as halting $260m in cash aid to Egyptian military leaders, who ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July.
'The decision was wrong'
Egypt has criticised the US decision as flawed. "The decision was wrong. Egypt will not surrender to American pressure and is continuing its path towards democracy as set by the roadmap," foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told an Egyptian radio station.
The decision, which marks a dramatic break with years of unqualified support to Cairo, will prevent deliveries of big-ticket items including Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams tank parts and Harpoon missiles, US officials told reporters.
Cutting or eliminating US aid to Egypt has been discussed for months, since the coup that ousted Morsi in July.
Administration officials, and some members of Congress, hoped that the threat would prevent a harsh crackdown on Morsi's supporters.
But hundreds of them were killed in August, when the army cleared two pro-Morsi sit-ins in the capital, prompting the Obama administration to review its aid to Egypt.
The decision will create new friction in Washington's already uneasy relations with Egypt's interim government, and will also likely anger many Gulf states, which were quick to embrace the country's new rulers.