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Senior U.S. official visits Egypt, calls for dialogue

Published: Updated:

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns called on Monday for dialogue between rival Egyptian factions, stressing America’s impartiality in the country’s domestic politics.

In the first high-level visit by a U.S. official to Egypt since the ouster of former president Mohammad Mursi, Burns said top Muslim Brotherhood leader should be released for a national reconciliation dialogue to start.

“If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible?” Burns asked. He also urged those opposed to Mursi’s ouster to participate in the political process peacefully, Reuters reported.

Anti-Mursi protesters accuse the United States of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and criticize U.S. media, mainly the CNN, and other U.S. lawmakers for describing the Mursi’s ouster as a coup.

Mursi was removed by the military from power on July 3 after millions demonstrated nationwide against his rule.

Obama has refused to openly describe Mursi’s ouster as a coup because doing so would require him to suspend American aid to the Egyptian army, a key ally for Washington in the restive Middle East region.

“We don’t take the side of particular personalities or particular parties,” Burns said. “I did not come with American solutions, nor did I come to lecture anyone. We will not try to impose our model on Egypt,” he added, according to Reuters.

Burns also said he did not believe Egypt would go down the Syrian path into an all-out civil war, despite violent protests involving Mursi’s supporters and opponents that have killed dozens of people.

“I don’t think that Egypt is in danger of repeating the tragedy that we see in Syria today,” he said.

Burns was speaking after holding talks with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, military-appointed president Adly Mansour and caretaker prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi.

Leaders of Egypt’s second-largest Islamist party and the Tamarod movement refused to meet Burns.

Nader Bakkar, spokesman of the Salafist Nour Party, told Al Arabiya that the party’s leader was invited to meet the U.S. official, but refused and did not provide a reason.

Mahmoud Badr, spokesman of the Tamarod (Rebellion) campaign that called for Mursi’s ouster, also told Al Arabiya that it declined to attend the meeting because of what it perceives as U.S. interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs.