Ashton extends visit to reinforce EU message in Cairo

Ashton extends visit to reinforce EU message in Cairo

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton meets with Egypt’s interim Minister of Defence and Armed Forces Chief General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton meets with Egypt’s interim Minister of Defence and Armed Forces Chief General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi

European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has extended her visit to Cairo for another day to meet with more political representatives.

Spokesperson for the European Union delegation in Egypt confirmed that Ashton extended her visit to hold more meetings but did not know who she would be meeting with.

Ashton is reiterating the EU’s call for an inclusive transition process during her visit to Egypt.

Ashton met with with President Adly Mansour, Vice-President Mohamed ElBaradei, Minister of Defence Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi and “other members of the interim government,” according to an EU statement on Sunday evening. Ashton also met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Al-Sisi hosted Ashton on Monday afternoon. The armed forces spokesman published a statement after the meeting saying the pair “exchanged views on developments in the Egyptian political scene and the democratisation process and the role of the EU during the current stage and the future vision to support stability in the region.” The statement also reported that Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Sedki Sobhi and other high-ranking senior commanders attended the meeting.

Ashton met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy earlier on Monday. The foreign ministry published a statement following the meeting, which said Fahmy “presented the developments of the domestic scene in Egypt and the importance of reconciliation and the participation of all political forces in the ongoing democratic roadmap.” He also emphasised the importance of denouncing violence and stopping incitement. “Ashton stressed that the former regime did not achieve the demands and aspirations of the Egyptian people,” said the ministry statement.

The pair went on to discuss regional issues including the Syrian crisis, the Nile Basin issue and the dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Ahmed El-Moslimany, media advisor to Mansour, said in a press conference on Monday afternoon that he was unaware if Ashton requested to meet with former president Mohamed Morsi, but stressed that a foreign diplomat can meet with Morsi if they choose.

“Morsi is facing charges but is not a political prisoner,” he said: “We are ruled by the Egyptian house, not the White House.”

The Anti-Coup Coalition (ACC) announced in a statement on Monday that a delegation will meet with Ashton on Monday afternoon, “upon her request.” The ACC delegation will include Mohamed Mahsoub from Al-Wasat Party, Mahmoud Taha and Mohamed Ali Bishr and Amr Darrag of the FJP. In addition former prime minister Hesham Qandil, described in the statement as “the legitimate Egyptian Prime Minister” will also attend the meeting.

Ashton also met with coordinator of the 6 April Youth Movement Ahmed Maher, as well as Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdel Aziz from the Tamarod movement, the group behind the 30 June protests that led to Morsi’s ouster.

Ahead of her visit Ashton said she would “speak to all sides and reinforce our message that there must be a fully inclusive transition process, taking in all political groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.” She called for “constitutional order, free and fair elections and a civilian-led government.”

Ashton also said she would reiterate her call to end violence adding,:“I deeply deplore the loss of life. The EU is determined to help the Egyptian people on their journey to a stable, prosperous and democratic Egypt.”

This is the second visit Ashton has made to Egypt in as many weeks. Her second visit comes after the death of 89 people following clashes near a pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square last Friday.

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