Senior US diplomat won't meet Egypt deposed leader

AFP , Monday 5 Aug 2013

Deputy Secretary William Burns meets instead with Muslim Brotherhood second-in-command Khairat El-Shater, hopes to 'facilitate inclusive dialogue' during Egypt visit

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who is in Egypt to discuss its political crisis, has no meeting scheduled with deposed president Mohamed Morsi, the State Department said Monday.

"As of right now, there are no plans for him to meet with Mohamed Morsi," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

But she said Burns, who is the top US career diplomat, met Sunday with Khairat El-Shater, the first deputy to the supreme leader of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Burns was accompanied by the foreign ministers of regional US allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as by EU special representative Bernandino Leon.

Harf said the meeting was to "prevent further violence, calm tensions and facilitate an inclusive dialogue among Egyptians that can help the transition to a democratically elected civilian government."

Egypt has been shaken by sometimes deadly political violence after Egypt's military on July 3 ousted Morsi, who was the country's first democratically elected leader.

Secretary of State John Kerry last week spoke enthusiastically about the military, which he credited with "restoring democracy" by ousting the Islamist president.

He later walked back from his remarks, instead calling for calm and democratic elections.

But the United States has refused to describe Morsi's ouster by the military as a coup, a designation that would legally oblige Washington to suspend its $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

Israel has asked the United States to maintain the aid, believing that the support for the military is critical to preserving regional peace.

Morsi has not been seen in public since his overthrow. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week became the first foreign visitor to see Morsi since he was ousted and said that he appeared to be in good health.

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