EU's Ashton meets top Egyptian officials to press for political settlement
Vice-President Mohamed ElBaradei discusses Egypt's crisis with EU's Ashton, says 'solution must not pose threat to national security'
Ahram Online, Monday 29 Jul 2013
European Union foreign policy high representative Catherine Ashton (Photo: Reuters)
European Union foreign policy high representative Catherine Ashton said that her visit to Egypt is focused on mobilising for a cohesive transitional process that will include all political factions in the country.
"This transitional process must lead -as soon as possible- to a constitutional regime, the holding of free and transparent elections and the forming of a cabinet with a civilian leadership, " Ashton said in a statement issued on Monday.
Ashton’s visit includes meeting with interim president Adly Mansour, Vice-President Mohamed ElBaradei, army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in addition to other members of the interim cabinet and political figures, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Her visit comes in the wake of the killing of at least 80 pro-Morsi protesters, early Saturday as they allegedly attempted to extend a sit-in in north Cairo.
According to a statement issued by Egypt’s presidency, Ashton met with VP for foreign affairs ElBaradei a few hours after her arrival to Cairo on Sunday night.
ElBaradei reportedly told Ashton that the presidency is exerting "all what it could in order to reach a peaceful exit to the current crisis." He asserted that any solution proposed must be in accordance to the law and not pose a threat to national security.
Ashton and ElBaradei are scheduled to meet again on Monday night to follow up on her other meetings.
The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup announced on Monday that a delegation of five members have been commissioned to also meet with Ashton on Monday.
The Islamists representatives are leading member of Al-Wasat Party Mohamed Mahsoub, members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance bureau Mohamed Taha and Mohamed Ali Bishr, and Freedom and Justice Party’s Amr Darrag. The delegation will also include former prime minister Hisham Qandil.
Leading Muslim Brotherhood member Essam El-Erian has said in an interview with London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that Ashton has requested a meeting with the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie.
"We told her that this meeting is not possible, and that she should rather meet with legitimate president Mohamed Morsi," he added.
Informed sources earlier told Ahram Online that Ashton has been promised an opportunity to meet with the former president, which she was prevented from doing by the Egyptian authorities during her last visit earlier in July.
Morsi, who was the first elected civil president to rule Egypt, was removed from his post by the army amid massive protests demanding his ouster on 3 July. Since his removal, Morsi has been kept in an undisclosed location.