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Egyptian Salafist Nour Party declines talks with US official

Egypt's second largest Islamist party refuses talks with US Secretary of State on 2-day visit, decrying foreign interference in domestic affairs

Ahram Online , Monday 15 Jul 2013
Bill Burns
US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns (photo: Reuters)

Nour Party, Egypt's second-largest Islamist group after the Muslim Brotherhood, has spurned offers to hold talks with a senior US diplomat currently visiting Egypt.

Under Secretary of State Bill Burns arrived to Cairo early on Monday as part of a two-day visit to urge for a stop to current violence in the country and also to encourage the formation of a democratic, civilian government following a popularly-backed military overthrow of the state's Islamist president.

Ultraconservative Nour Party has refused to meet the senior diplomat in protest at what it perceives as the US interference in Egypt's domestic affairs, state news agency MENA said.

The military deposed elected president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July after days of mass nationwide demonstrations calling for his ouster. The ensuing unrest that has killed dozens and injured more than 1,400 people across Egypt has raised concerns in Washington.

The Nour Party has said it is, instead, pressing ahead with Al-Azhar supervised negotiations with all political forces – including the Muslim Brotherhood – seeking to forge national reconciliation in the increasingly polarised country, MENA added.

The group went on to slam what it described as anti-Islamist inflammatory rhetoric in Egyptian media, further deepening an already bitter political divide and stalling reconciliation efforts. It has said it is working towards establishing a code of conduct to regulate the matter.

The Nour Party, which initially backed the ouster of Morsi, have since refused posts in the army-backed interim government instated following the overthrow of the Islamist leader. Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi is expected to unveil the new cabinet by midweek.

In his first comments since Morsi's ouster, military chief General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said the army acted after Morsi rejected a referendum on his presidency despite the millions that took to the streets to withdraw confidence in Morsi and press for early elections.

Morsi has been held in a "safe place" since his ouster on 3 July, officials say. Both Berlin and Washington have called for his release.

The state has launched a crackdown on Morsi's Brotherhood following his removal, with many of the Islamist organisations' officials being detained, on a travel ban list or have had their assets frozen.

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