Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has arrived in Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. The visit, which is expected to last just hours, comes after days of deadly unrest across Egypt.
President Morsi was greeted by Chancellor Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday, receiving military honors.
President Morsi's visit is set to focus on bilateral cooperation as well as the situation in Egypt, the official news agency MENA said. It follows almost a week of violence that has left more than 50 people dead and a warning from Egypt's military chief that the political crisis could lead to the collapse of the state.
Morsi's trip, the first since his election in June last year, was originally expected to last two days, but due to the tense situation in the country it has been shortened to just several hours. Morsi also postponed an official visit to meet with French President Francois Hollande as he is expected to return to Egypt on Wednesday.#video#
Hours before Morsi's arrival, Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned that German financial aid to Egypt is contingent upon democratic progress.
Germany's offer of help "depends on advances in the democratic development in Egypt," Westerwelle said on ARD public television.
"These last days we have seen some terrible pictures, images of violence and destruction," he said, calling for discussion between the opposition and the Egyptian government.
Westerwelle also condemned Morsi's past anti-Jewish remarks that surfaced in a video from 2010 as "unacceptable”. However, he also added, "But at the same time President Morsi has played a very constructive role mediating in the Gaza conflict."
Nobel Peace Prize winner and leading figure in the opposition National Salvation Front Mohamed ElBaradei called Wednesday for urgent talks with Egypt's leadership to address the crisis after rejecting Morsi's call for dialogue two days earlier.
Protests in Egypt flared on Thursday just ahead of the second anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising in January 2011. In recent days, most of the deaths came in Port Said where clashes erupted Saturday after a court issued death sentences against 21 people for their role in deadly riots last year at a football stadium.
In light of the unrest, Morsi declared a state of emergency and night curfews in three provinces along the Suez Canal, however the curfews have been violated and protests continue.
hc/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dape)