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Trial date set for Brotherhood leaders as Egypt diplomacy continues

An Egyptian court has set a date for the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of inciting violence. This comes as diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Egypt without more bloodshed continued.

A Cairo court on Sunday set August 25 as the date for the trial of Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie - who is not in custody - and his two deputies Khairat al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumi, who are both being held in Cairo's Tora prison.

The move to try the three is likely to enrage supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

The men, charged with inciting violence during protests leading up to Morsi's overthrow on July 3, are to face trial along with three Brotherhood members accused of killing protesters.

Morsi himself has also been accused of murder and other crimes, and is being detained at an undisclosed location.

Heated diplomatic activity

This comes after US deputy secretary of state, William Burns, met on Saturday both with senior supporters of Morsi and government officials, as part of ongoing efforts to resolve a stand-off between the two sides.

Following his meeting with Burns, Nabil Fahmy, foreign minister in the interim government installed after the July 3 military takeover, played down threats to dismantle sit-ins being held by Morsi loyalists.

Watch video 01:44

Radical influence in Egypt

Fahmy said while the government was committed to ending the sit-ins, there was "no desire to use force if there is any other avenue that has not been exhausted."

He also stressed his government's willingness to work with Morsi's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

"There is an open invitation for all political forces to participate. The door is open for everybody, including the Brotherhood, to participate in the process," Fahmy told a press conference in Cairo.

Bottom line

However, at the same time, there was no sign of any willingness to release Morsi, who has been in custody since the military takeover.

There was also little sign that the Muslim Brotherhood would be willing to accept any less than Morsi's release and his reinstatement as president.

A statement from a spokesman for the Morsi camp, though, acknowledged the demands of the millions who took to the streets to protest against the former president's government in the days leading up to the military takeover.

"I respect and hold in regard the demands of the masses that went out on June 30, but I will not build on the military coup," spokesman Tarek El-Malt told the Reuters new agency, echoing what he said Brotherhood leaders had told Burns and the European Union's envoy, Bernardino Leon.

On Sunday, Burns and Leon also met with Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, according to an army statement that gave no further details.

tj,pfd/av (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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