U.S., Arab nations working to bring Egypt parties together: Kerry

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 02, 2013 12:51 PM
U.S., Arab nations working to bring Egypt parties together: Kerry

By Lesley Wroughton

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States and other nations are working to bring Egypt's interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood together to find a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

"Egypt needs to get back to a new normal, it needs to restore stability, to be able to attract business and put people to work," Kerry said before a meeting with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed in London.

"We will work very very hard together with others, in order to bring parties together to find a peaceful resolution that grows the democracy and respects the rights of everybody."

Concerned about more bloodshed in Egypt, the United States, European and Arab states are trying to bring the sides together, relying on the United Arab Emirates to work with the interim government and Qatar to liaise with the Muslim Brotherhood.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has made several visits to Egypt in the last month to speak to both sides. She is one of the few outsiders to visit deposed president Mohamed Mursi, who is being held in a secret detention facility.

Kerry's No. 2, William Burns, was headed to Cairo on Friday for talks in his second visit in less than a month.

It is unclear whether he will meet with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who criticized Kerry for saying that the Egypt's military had been "restoring democracy" when it toppled Mursi. Washington has avoided calling his removal a coup.

"The UAE, with the United States and others, is doing its very best to give this government the support it needs, but also to encourage all the other parties to reach a position where it can negotiate with this government - here I'm talking about the previous government," the UAE's Sheikh Abdullah said.

"We don't want to see anybody stopping Egypt from the way it should go, but that is only going to happen by all parties being in inclusive dialogue," he said. "I think here the UAE and the United States do agree."

In his strongest support yet for Egypt's new leadership, Kerry told a Pakistani television station that the military was restoring democracy when it ousted Mursi on July 3.

"The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descent into chaos, into violence," Kerry told GEO TV.

"And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so - so far."

It is unclear whether a deal to bring Egypt's parties together would include Mursi. Ashton denied carrying an offer to the deposed leader that would ensure his safe exit if he were to renounce his claim to the presidency.

Many have suggested that such an arrangement could be part of a deal that would allow the Brotherhood to leave the streets and join a quasi-government in Egypt. It would, however, require Mursi to abandon his historic mandate as Egypt's first freely-elected leader.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)