EU's Ashton meets with Brotherhood leaders

Ahram Online, Wednesday 2 Oct 2013

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton meets with Amr Darrag and Mohamed Ali Beshr as first step towards reconciliation talks

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has begun a meeting with Muslim Brotherhood leaders Amr Darrag and Mohamed Ali Bishr late Wednesday, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website.

Ashton’s three-day visit to Cairo, which began on Wednesday, is being viewed by analysts as an a new attempt to broach a settlement between the transitional government and the Muslim Brotherhood, following the removal of the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July.

The last month has seen a security crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters, with hundreds arrested.

According to Al-Ahram, the two senior Brotherhood figures will demand an end to the arrest campaign launched by Egypt's interim government against Brotherhood sympathisers and the release of those arrested without charges, in exchange for a halt to protests.

According to MENA agency, Ashton met earlier on Wednesday with Amr Moussa, the head of Egypt's constitution-drafting committee.

Ashton will meet Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi on Thursday, according to Ahram.

During her three-day visit, Ashton will hold talks with key members of Egypt's interim administration, including the prime minister, president, and army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

In addition to talks with the Brotherhood, Ashton is to hold talks with other Islamists including the Salafist Nour Party.

Ashton has visited the country twice since Morsi was ousted from the presidency in July. She was one of a number of international envoys who tried unsuccessfully to reduce tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the transitional government over the summer.

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