EU foreign policy chief: Egypt political prisoners ‘should be released’

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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told Al Arabiya on Tuesday that she visited Cairo to send a clear message that prisoners “detained on political grounds should be released.”

President Mohammed Mursi has been detained, his whereabouts unknown, since he was deposed on July 3.

Earlier Tuesday, Ashton, who left Cairo in a military helicopter to meet Mursi for two hours, said he was doing “well” and “has access to information and news.”

She added: “If people are in leadership positions and detained politically then that needs to be addressed, because bringing people together, finding a common way forward, building confidence between people is absolutely vital for the future.”

Ashton described Mursi as an “important person,” and said the meeting was an “opportunity” to discuss the situation.

“I promised him that I won’t represent his views because he isn’t in a position to contradict me if I got it wrong, and I wanted to discuss with him how he saw the situation.”

Capping off her two-day visit to Cairo, Ashton said the EU will continue its efforts to mediate an end to the crisis in Egypt.

Speaking alongside interim Vice President Mohammed al-Baradei, Ashton said EU diplomats would be in Egypt to continue the effort.

“I will come back,” Reuters quoted her as saying. It was up to Egyptian politicians to “make the right decisions,” she added.
“Any violence must stop. The people need to come together to find the road to the future together. Only an inclusive process will work.”

Baradei said he was optimistic that sit-ins by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is protesting against the overthrow of Mursi, could be ended peacefully.

“Once we contain the violence that’s taking place, then there will be room for a peaceful way to disband the demonstrations in different parts of the country and go into a serious dialogue,” he said.

Baradei said Mursi had failed, but the Brotherhood was still part of the political process.

(With Reuters)