EU’S ASHTON MEETS OUSTED EGYPT PRESIDENT

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Egyptian supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi (portrait) protest against the government at al-Nasr street in Cairo on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

CAIRO: European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held two hours of talks with the ousted Egyptian president as she pressed efforts on Tuesday to broker an end to an increasingly bloody crisis.

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Ashton’s intensive talks with leaders of both the army-installed interim government and the Islamist opposition came as supporters of Mohamed Morsi vowed no let-up in their demonstrations for his reinstatement despite weekend clashes that left 82 people dead.

Ashton’s spokeswoman did not say where the EU envoy met Morsi, who has been in custody since just hours after his overthrow in a July 3 coup.

She met him “for two hours,” spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said, without elaborating on the content of the talks.

Sources said Ashton had left Cairo in a military helicopter late on Monday for the undisclosed location where Morsi is being held.

On her last visit on July 17, Ashton unsuccessfully requested to meet the ousted president and urged his release.

Morsi is being held on suspicion of crimes relating to his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak.

His supporters have rallied daily for his reinstatement and on Monday marched from a key Cairo sit-in to several security headquarters.

The marches raised fears of fresh clashes, but protesters kept their distance from security forces and headed back to their protest tent city after the demonstrations.

In the eastern city of Ismailia, however, a security source said clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents broke out, injuring 18.

The Anti-Coup Alliance called for a million-man march later on Tuesday under the banner of “Martyrs of the Coup” to commemorate its dead at a rally in Cairo on Saturday.

It urged Egyptians “to go out into the streets and squares, to regain their freedom and dignity—that are being usurped by the bloody coup—and for the rights of the martyrs assassinated by its bullets.”

Khaled al-Khateeb, the head of the central administration of Egypt’s emergency services, revised Saturday’s death toll up to 82, including a police officer who died of his wounds.

The White House “strongly” condemned the bloodshed, and urged the military-backed interim government to respect the rights of demonstrators.

AFP

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