Ashton, Brotherhood talks reach no resolution to Egypt crisis

Ahram Online, Wednesday 17 Jul 2013

EU's top representative Catherine Ashton tells Egypt's political figures she would like to see Egypt hold elections within a few months, Brotherhood dismisses talks as ineffective

Catherine Ashton
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Photo: AP)

European Union (EU) High Representative Catherine Ashton told state news agency MENA Wednesday that during talks with Egyptian political figures she expressed wishes to see Egypt hold elections within a few months.

"My message was clear that the European Union largely supports the Egyptian people and would like Egypt to see a smooth transition to democracy," she added.

Ashton met with representatives of anti-Morsi petition drive 'Rebel' as well as representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood - the group from which deposed president Mohamed Morsi hails.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ashton held meetings with government officials including Egypt's temporary President Adly Mansour, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.

Following the 45-minute meeting with Brotherhood representatives, senior Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag told Reuters that Ashton did not offer a solution that could resolve the current crisis.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood remains adamant on rejecting the current military-backed roadmap as "illegitimate" and said it will not take part in any negotiations until Morsi – who was removed in a popularly-backed military overthrow - is reinstated.

Ex-prime minister Hisham Qandil and key Brotherhood figure and former minister under Morsi Mohamed Ali Bishr attended the meeting with Ashton, along with Darrag.

Ashton also added that she would have liked to meet Morsi – currently held by the military - during her visit to Cairo.

"I have received confirmation that he is well. I believe he should be released," she told reporters.

'Rebel' campaign co-founders Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdel-Aziz declined to comment after their meeting with Ashton and only said the campaign will issue a statement shortly.

The campaign's founders asserted to Ashton that what happened following the 30 June nationwide anti-Morsi protests was not a military coup d'etat but a "popular revolt," the campaign said in a statement released after Wednesday's meeting.

"We have affirmed to Ashton that we will only respect those who respect the will of the Egyptian people and that the any [foreign entity] that stands against the people's revolution will come out a loser, especially that the EU has common political and economic interests [with Egypt]," the campaign added.

The EU had reportedly attempted to broker a consensus deal between Egypt's rival political forces a few months ago, but the proposed measures were turned down by Morsi, according to Reuters.

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