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Egypt’s Brotherhood stands firm despite U.S. diplomacy attempts

Published: Updated:

The Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday continued to insist on the reinstatement of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, despite attempts by a senior U.S. official to find a peaceful solution to Egypt’s political crisis.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns, met with the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm, for a second round of talks on Saturday.

Mursi’s supporters have insisted since his July 3 ouster that any resolution to the crisis must include his reinstatement.

The Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm, issued a statement following the talks which suggested that position has not changed, AFP news agency reported. It reiterated its commitment to “legitimacy, which stipulates the return of the president, the constitution and the Shura Council,” referring to the upper house of parliament.

The U.S. envoy’s visit was the latest in a series of diplomatic moves to broker a compromise between Mursi supporters and the army-backed interim government, including visits from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel contacted army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi from Washington, urging him to support an “inclusive political process,” the Pentagon said.

However, in an interview with the Washington Post published on Saturday Sisi called on the U.S. to put pressure on Mursi supporters to end their protests.

Burns later met Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy to seek a solution to the deadlock over the Muslim Brotherhood’s two sit-ins in Cairo.

There are mounting fears over the possible use of force to dismantle the rallies, but Fahmy insisted that authorities had “no desire to use force if there is any other avenue that has not been exhausted.

“There is an open invitation for all political forces to participate. The door is open for everybody, including the Brotherhood, to participate in the process,” Fahmy told reporters.

“If the political landscape does not have space for everyone, it cannot be an inclusive democracy.”

Mursi has now been formally remanded in custody, charged with offences committed in 2011 when he broke out of prison during the revolt that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

The Islamist leader, who has been held in an undisclosed location since the ouster, refused to talk to the investigating judge in a meeting on Friday, Mostafa Azab of the “Lawyers Against the Coup” movement told AFP.

Mursi “refused to talk to him and told him he didn’t recognize any of the measures being taken against him,” Azab said, adding that the former president had refused to call a lawyer.

The interior ministry has called on pro-Mursi demonstrators to leave, in order to participate in the political transition.

“Your peaceful and safe exit will allow for the return of the Brotherhood to a role in the democratic political process,” the ministry said.

But it warned that protesters’ “continued presence will expose them to legal action over their involvement in several criminal acts by some in the gatherings, including killing, torture, kidnap, carrying weapons... and incitement to violence.”