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EU to review relations with Egypt over recent violence

The European Union has said it will review its relations with Egypt following the violence that has hit the country over the past few days. The 28-member bloc has also called for an immediate end to the bloodshed.

A statement released jointly on Sunday by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on all parties in Egypt to exercise restraint.

At the same time, the statement appeared to point the finger at the military and the interim government it installed after ousting the democratically elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, last month.

"While all should exert maximum restraint, we underline the particular responsibility of the interim authorities and of the army in bringing clashes to a halt," the statement read. "The violence and the killings of these last days cannot be justified nor condoned. Human rights must be respected and upheld. Political prisoners should be released."

Van Rompuy and Barroso also reminded Egypt's military and interim civilian government of the commitment both made to restoring democratic rule shortly after the army seized power.

"All the Egyptian political forces must recommit to the country's democratic future and engage in a political process leading to the early holding of elections and the establishment of a civilian government," the statement read. "The Egyptian Army must respect and support such a political process."

They also warned of the "unpredictable consequences" any further escalation could have, not just for Egypt but also the entire region.

According to the statement, the EU will urgently review its relations with Egypt in the next few days and adopt measures meant to promote an end to violence and a return to political dialogue in the country.

This came a day before senior diplomats from all of the bloc's 28 member nations were to meet to discuss the crisis in Egypt. There have been also been suggestions that a meeting of EU foreign ministers could be called later in the week.

Germany had previously announced that it would reevaluate its ties with Egypt over the past week's violence, in which hundreds of people have died. On Saturday, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned that the situation in Egypt could deteriorate into a civil war.

pfd/tj (Reuters, AFP)