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Foreign talks with Brotherhood failed: Presidency

Egypt interim presidency blames Muslim Brotherhood for failed mediation attempts to end political deadlock

Ahram Online , Wednesday 7 Aug 2013
Egypt
Egypt's interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei (C) speaks with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (L) during their meeting with high delegations in Cairo in this handout picture dated August 3, (Photo: Reuters).
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Egypt's presidency announced on Wednesday that talks between foreign delegates and the Muslim Brotherhood have failed, adding that the Brotherhood and its allies bear "full responsibility for the failure and what will follow."

Supporters of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi – namely the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies – have been staging two sit-ins in Cairo and Giza as well as daily rallies demanding Morsi's reinstatement following his popularly-backed army ouster on 3 July.

The pro-Morsi National Coalition to Support Legitimacy said Tuesday that it has not discussed any initiative proposed by the visiting delegation – composed of envoys from the United States, Europe, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates – to end the current political crisis between Egypt's interim government and the Brotherhood.

"Diplomatic efforts ended today. The state gave room for all necessary efforts to be exhausted in order to urge the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters to reject violence, prevent bloodshed and cease the disruption of Egyptian society by holding its future hostage," the presidency's statement read.

The presidency described the Brotherhood-led sit-ins at Cairo's Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque and Giza's Nahda Square as non-peaceful.

Accompanied by an EU representative and Gulf foreign ministers, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited the Brotherhood's second man Khairat El-Shater in prison on Monday.

El-Shater is being detained on charges of inciting violence against protesters during Morsi's time in power.

The presidency statement confirmed that all visits to Brotherhood members in police custody took place with the permission of Egyptian authorities, and thanked the foreign countries which it described as "friends and brothers" for their efforts.

Secretary Burns also met with Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour and interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a long-time figurehead of Egypt's liberal opposition.

The interim government is under increasing pressure to release former president Morsi, who has been held incommunicado at an unknown location by Egypt's military since his ouster. Morsi faces charges of espionage and jailbreak, which were officially filed in the early weeks of his detainment.

The US and EU have repeatedly called for Morsi's release.

The army has limited Morsi's interaction with foreign officials, allowing only a delegation from the African Union and EU foreign affairs Chief Catherine Ashton to meet with the ousted president. Egypt's foreign minister asserted on Wednesday that the former president is not a "monument" to be visited, and the army has rejected further visits by foreign envoys.

US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, in Cairo to meet with Egypt's leadership, made statements on Tuesday urging for Morsi's release and an "inclusive political process" in Egypt.

Egypt's transitional government has called on the Brotherhood to join national reconciliation talks but the group has rejected the invitation, insisting instead on Morsi's reinstatement.

Criticising foreign role

Despite giving foreign envoys access to Morsi and other prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures, Egyptian officials have been uncharacteristically vocal against the foreign role in the current political impasse.

Egypt's presidential media advisor Ahmed El-Muslimani stated on Tuesday that foreign pressure has "surpassed international norms."

Asked about the Brotherhood-led sit-ins in Cairo and Giza, Egypt's army chief Abdel Fatah El-Sisi told the Washington Post: "You left the Egyptians, you turned your back on the Egyptians and they won’t forget that. Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?"

El-Sisi's remarks, aimed at the US and EU, also accused the western powers of being absent when it came to safeguarding the "security, safety, and well-being of Egypt."

There have been increasing calls to disperse the pro-Morsi sit-ins, which many accuse of harbouring armed Islamists and regularly torturing opponents.

Amnesty International issued a report which included several eye-witness accounts of torture incidents taking place inside the sit-ins.

Morsi's supporters vehemently deny such claims, accusing security forces and thugs of targeting them.

Security forces have killed at least 120 Morsi supporters over the course of two violent confrontations in July. The bloody incidents have raised concern about the Egyptian government's possible crackdown on the sit-in and Brotherhood supporters.

While VP ElBaradei has stated that the Brotherhood must be included in the political process, he also believes that the sit-in should be dispersed if talks fail.

"I repeatedly told El-Sisi that dispersing the sit-in is not right," he said."If we reach a point where there is no alternative to using violence, it has to be exercised with minimal losses of lives," he added in a Sunday interview with the privately-owned satellite channel Al-Hayat.

ElBaradei also said that only those Brotherhood members who have committed crimes should be prosecuted, warning that calls for "crushing" Islamists will push Egypt into a cycle of violence if heeded.

Interim President Adly Mansour will address the Egypt public on Wednesday in a speech commemorating the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

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