EU`s Ashton visit ends, but Egypt crisis persists

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Egypt`s ousted Islamist President, saying he was "well".

Cairo: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Egypt`s ousted Islamist President on Tuesday, saying he was "well", but the country`s political crisis seemed no closer to resolution despite her efforts.

Neither the interim government nor supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi showed any indication that they had shifted their positions after talks with Ashton, who left Cairo today.

Morsi loyalists continued to rally throughout the day, despite stern warnings from the military and National Defence Council and the deaths of 82 people at a protest on Saturday.

Ashton became the first person to officially visit Morsi since his July 3 ouster, holding two hours of talks with him at an undisclosed location early today.

"Morsi is well," she told reporters.

"He has access to information in terms of TV, newspapers, so we were able to talk about the situation and we were able to talk about the need to move forward.
"We had a friendly, open and very frank discussion," she added, declining to characterise Morsi`s comments or give details of where he is being held.

Morsi has not been seen in public since his ouster and is being held in custody on allegations related to his escape from prison during Egypt`s 2011 uprising.

But she said her talks with Morsi and a string of government officials and opposition representatives were not intended to push the two sides to the table.

"We want to help facilitate the bringing together of ideas," she said, adding that she was hoping to find "common ground".

"I don`t come here to say somebody should do this, somebody should do that, this is your country," she said.

In Brussels, Ashton`s spokesman Michael Mann said the EU had a key role "because everybody is willing to talk to us".

On Sunday and yesterday, Ashton met Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, interim president Adly Mansour and vice president Mohamed ElBaradei.

She also met representatives of the pro-Morsi coalition, which said that "no initiatives" to resolve the crisis had been discussed, adding that it remained committed to Morsi`s reinstatement.

"We are ready to talk to anybody, but we don`t see anything positive from the other side," added Amr Darrag, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood`s political arm.

ElBaradei, speaking at a news conference with Ashton after a second meeting with her on Tuesday, insisted Morsi would play no role in Egypt`s political process going forward.


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