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World/National News

August 4, 2013

U.S. envoy in Egypt holds talks with rival sides

CAIRO — Egypt’s Interior Ministry warned supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Saturday for a second time to abandon their protest camps, as a senior U.S. diplomat met with officials on both sides of the country’s political divide.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns extended his visit to Cairo by one day so he could meet military leader Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi and the country’s prime minister today, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official said. A member of the pro-Morsi delegation that met yesterday with Burns said the four delegates also would meet again with the U.S. diplomat today for more talks.

At the core of talks is the political future of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies following the July 3 coup that ousted Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president. The military coup, which followed several days of mass protests by millions of Egyptians demanding his ouster, also led to the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament and the suspension of an Islamist-drafted constitution.

The Brotherhood says it is looking for concessions before beginning talks with rivals. Such measures could include releasing detained Brotherhood leaders, unfreezing the group’s assets, lifting a ban on its television stations and reigning in the use of force against its protesters.

Tarek el-Malt, who met with Burns and is a member of the Brotherhood-allied Wasat Party, said the delegation insisted that any initiatives for a way out of the crisis must center on the 2012 constitution being restored.

“Morsi would return to power in all cases,” he told The Associated Press. “Whether he spends his full term in office or delegates his power to a national Cabinet is up for discussion.”

However, Burns and others have signaled that the West has moved on from Morsi’s presidency. Washington and others are foremost seeking stability in the Arab world’s most populous nation, and have called for the Brotherhood’s participation in the transition as a way to achieve national reconciliation.

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