EU's Ashton kicks off Egypt visit with Moussa meeting

Ahram Online , Wednesday 2 Oct 2013

European Union top envoy Catherine Ashton meets with head of Egypt's constitution-writing body Amr Moussa upon arrival in Cairo

Head of Egypt's constitution-drafting body Amr Moussa meets EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, 10 October, 2013 (Photo: EU Delegation to Egypt Facebook page)

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with the head of Egypt's constitution-drafting body Amr Moussa on Wednesday, state news agency MENA reported.

Ashton is in Cairo to promote reconciliation between the interim administration and the Muslim Brotherhood, and to push for a democratic transition following the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.

Morsi's Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have suffered a widespread crackdown in recent months.

The former Arab League secretary general said Ashton did not interfere in the constitution-amending process, but wanted to ensure it was being conducted in an inclusive way.

Talks also covered how Egypt's army-brokered transitional roadmap – set forth after Morsi's ouster – was shaping up.

During her three-day visit, Ashton will hold talks with key members of Egypt's interim administration and army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. She will also meet Islamists, including leaders of the Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party.

The EU reiterated its support for Egypt, Moussa told reporters in a post-meeting briefing, adding that Ashton would present a report on Egypt to the European Council in a fortnight.

There has been a shift in the European stance towards Egypt and an "understanding of the situation," said Moussa, who served as foreign minister for a decade in Hosni Mubarak's government.

Commenting on Ashton visit, Islamists said they welcomed foreign efforts to ease simmering tensions, but vowed to continue their calls for the reinstatement of the "legitimate" president.

"We welcome any international efforts to resolve Egypt's ongoing crisis," Khaled Hanafy, a leading member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said on Tuesday.

Hanafy, also a member of the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, emphasised that any efforts or resolutions that entailed renouncing the president's "legitimacy" or the 2012 "popularly-approved constitution" were "doomed to fail."

The transitional roadmap involves endorsing a new constitution at a national referendum, with parliamentary and presidential elections to follow.

Ashton has repeatedly urged Egypt to adopt an inclusive democratic process that engages all factions. She has voiced alarm over the use of violence against Morsi supporters and a deepening polarisation since his exit.

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