EU’s Ashton regrets not seeing Mursi, urges release

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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday that she regretted not having been able to meet Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Mursi on a visit to Cairo, AFP reported.

She called for his immediate release from the custody he has been kept in since just hours after the military toppled him on July 3.

“I believe he should be released. I was assured he is well. I would have liked to see him,” Ashton told reporters.

Meanwhile, Ashton will meet with two senior officials from ousted Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo on Wednesday, a Brotherhood spokesman said.

“We will meet with Ms. Ashton to express our position on legitimacy and democracy with the hope that they will aid democracy and respect the choices made by the Egyptian people,” Mohamed Bishr, a member of the Brotherhood’s 17-strong advisory council, told Reuters.

“We are not against meeting with representatives of any country, to express our position in defense of democracy and legitimacy.”

Amr Darrag and Mohamed Bishr, both of whom were ministers in Mursi’s cabinet, will sit down with Ashton, Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Hadded said on Twitter.

“I am going to Egypt to reinforce our message that there must be a fully inclusive political process, taking in all groups which support democracy,” Ashton said in a statement. “I will underline that Egypt needs to return as rapidly as possible to its democratic transition.”

During the EU official’s last visit to Cairo in Arpil, she tried to convince Mursi to sign up to a power-sharing deal brokered by an EU envoy with Mursi’s opponents. However, the ousted Islamist president did not respond.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt called on Wednesday for more mass demonstrations, naming it a “day of steadfastness” to protest against the country’s new interim cabinet lineup.

The protests are set to take place in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiyah Square, a popular venue for supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian military ousted Mursi and dissolved the Islamist-drafted constitution. The interim cabinet, which is headed by Adly Mansour, is tasked with executing a “road map” to restore civilian rule.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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