EU’s Ashton visit ends, but Egypt crisis continues

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CAIRO: European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton left Egypt on Tuesday after a mediation trip that included talks with the ousted president, but the country’s crisis appeared no closer to a resolution.

She said Mohamed Morsi, who has not been seen in public since being deposed on July 3, was “well,” but did not say where he was being held.

And neither the interim government nor Morsi’s supporters gave any indication that they had shifted their positions after her visit.

Morsi loyalists continued to rally throughout the day, despite stern warnings from the military and National Defense Council and the deaths of 82 people at a protest on Saturday.

They had announced a million-man march but instead held a series of smaller rallies that passed off peacefully.

“Morsi is well,” Ashton told reporters on Tuesday morning, after two hours of talks with the ousted leader.

“He has access to information in terms of TV, newspapers, so we were able to talk about the situation and we were able to talk about the need to move forward.

“We had a friendly, open and very frank discussion,” she added, declining to characterize Morsi’s comments.

Morsi has not been seen in public since his ouster and is being held in custody on allegations related to his escape from prison during Egypt’s 2011 uprising.

Ashton said meeting Morsi was a condition of her trip to Egypt.

“I said that I would not come unless I could see him and that was freely offered to me.”

But she said her talks with him and a string of government officials and opposition representatives were not intended to push the two sides to the table.

“We want to help facilitate the bringing together of ideas,” Ashton said, adding that she was hoping to find “common ground.”

“I don’t come here to say somebody should do this, somebody should do that, this is your country,” she said.

On Sunday and Monday, Ashton met army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, interim President Adly Mansour and Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei.

AFP

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