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US senators Graham and McCain heading to Egypt for talks

Two US senators will be travelling to Egypt in a bid to defuse the crisis ignited by President Mohammed Morsi's ouster. Their visit comes amid several other international bids to mitigate the tense situation in Egypt.

President Barack Obama has asked Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain to travel to Egypt to meet with members of the new government and opposition groups in a bid to resolve a stand-off between the two sides.

"The military can't keep running the country. We need democratic elections," Graham said in an interview with CNN.

For decades Egypt has been an important US ally in the Middle East and Graham said future US aid, which totals $1.5 billion each year, will depend on a return to civilian rule.

"I want to keep the aid flowing to Egypt, but it has to be with the understanding that Egypt is going to march toward democracy, not toward a military dictatorship. And that's the message we're going to send," Graham said.

Graham also said he supported Secretary of State John Kerry's recent comments that backed the military's July 3 ouster of Morsi.

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

"And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgement - so far. To run the country, there's a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy," he said.

The news of their impending diplomatic efforts follow several other attempts by Western powers to mitigate the tense situation in the country.

Court date set

On Sunday a Cairo court 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 Morsi.

The men, charged with inciting violence during protests leading up to Morsi's overthrow, 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.

hc/lw (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)