EU's Ashton meets Morsi, NSF in Cairo visit

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Jun 2013

EU foreign policy chief discussed internal domestic situation with opposition groups the National Salvation Front and the Free Egyptians Party

File photo: European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton at the end of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels (Photo: Reuters)

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held separate meetings with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the secretary-general of Egypt's opposition umbrella group the National Salvation Front (NSF), Mounir Fakry Abdel-Nour, in Cairo on Wednesday.

Ashton's Wednesday's meeting with Abdel-Nour, which also included the head of Egypt's liberal Free Egyptians Party Ahmed Said, tackled developments in the internal domestic situation and Egypt's democratic transition, reported Egypt's state-run MENA

Ashton's Middle East tour, which started Monday, includes Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Israel.

Ashton was also scheduled to meet with Egypt's largest Salafist party, the Nour Party but the meeting was canceled after Ashton asked for a last-minute postponement, according to news reports.

Hardline Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya released a statement Wednesday expressing suspicion at the timing of Ashton's visit, which comes as the country expects to witness nationwide anti-government protests on 30 June to demand the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and snap presidential elections.

The group denounced Ashton's meetings with Egyptian opposition figures in the current "tense" timing and described them as “intervening” in Egyptian affairs.

Ashton had arrived in Cairo Tuesday for a two-day visit. EU Ambassador to Egypt James Moran had said earlier this week that Ashton's trip aimed to "calm tensions and re-open channels of communication between Egypt and Ethiopia."

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