US envoy is urging stability in Egypt

To meet today with general, Morsi backers

Egypt's interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei (center) spoke with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (left) during a meeting on Saturday.
Egyptian government via Reuters
Egypt's interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei (center) spoke with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (left) during a meeting on Saturday.

CAIRO — Egypt’s Interior Ministry warned supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Saturday for a second time to abandon their protest camps as a senior US diplomat met with officials on both sides of the country’s political divide.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns extended his visit to Cairo by one day so he could meet military leader General Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi and the country’s prime minister on Sunday, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official said.

A member of the pro-Morsi delegation that met Saturday with Burns said the four delegates also would meet again with the US diplomat on Sunday for more talks.


At the core of talks is the political future of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies after the July 3 coup that ousted Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president.

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The military coup, which followed several days of mass protests by millions of Egyptians demanding his ouster, also led to the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated Parliament and the suspension of an Islamist-drafted constitution.

The Brotherhood says it is looking for concessions before beginning talks with its rivals. Such measures could include releasing detained Brotherhood leaders, unfreezing the group’s assets, lifting a ban on its television stations, and reining in the use of force against its protesters.

Tarek el-Malt, who met with Burns and is a member of the Brotherhood-allied Wasat Party, said the delegation insisted that any initiatives for a way out of the crisis must center on the 2012 constitution being restored.

‘‘Morsi would return to power in all cases,’’ he said. ‘‘Whether he spends his full term in office or delegates his power to a national Cabinet is up for discussion.’’


However, Burns and others have signaled that the West has moved on from Morsi’s presidency. Washington and others are foremost seeking stability in the Arab world’s most populous nation, and have called for the Brotherhood’s participation in the transition as a way to achieve national reconciliation.

The trip by Burns, his second to Cairo since the coup, comes amid heightened fears of more bloodshed after more than 80 Morsi supporters were killed in clashes with police a week ago. More than 280 people have been killed nationwide in political violence since Morsi’s removal.

America’s No. 2 diplomat also held talks Saturday with interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour and Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, as did the European Union’s special envoy, Bernardino Leon.

Nevine Malak, who attended the same meeting with Burns and Malt as part of a delegation representing those against the coup, said the session was mainly for ‘‘listening.’’ She said the group, which includes two members of the Brotherhood’s political wing, would meet Burns again on Sunday.

While Egyptian authorities say the political sphere is open to Morsi’s allies, they are simultaneously outlining plans to break up the two main sit-ins where thousands of protesters still rally daily for Morsi’s return to power.