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Egypt clashes mar Burns visit

July 16, 2013

Mass demonstrations by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo turned violent overnight claiming several lives. This has overshadowed the first visit by a senior US official since the coup on July 3rd.

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi escape from tear gas EPA/KHALED ELFIQI +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Fighting between Islamist supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohammed Morsi and the police began overnight after demonstrators took to the streets in Cairo following their Ramadan iftar meal.

They were the first in the Egyptian capital since dozens of pro-Morsi demonstrators were shot dead outside military headquarters a week ago. There have been reports of seven dead and over 250 injured.

This comes as US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns continues a two-day visit to the country.

On Monday he held first talks with the country's new leadership, including the army-appointed interim prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi, Mohammed ElBaradei, interim vice president for international relations, interim President Adli Mansour and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

“I did not come with American solutions, nor did I come to lecture anyone. We will not try to impose our model on Egypt,” Burns said after his meetings.

He also said the US would not favor any individuals or parties.

"The truth is that only Egyptians themselves can make the hard choices required to build an inclusive, tolerant, democratic future," Burns said. "I also know that they will find a determined partner in the United States."

Egypt: Mass Protests and Diplomacy

Burns did not meet any representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are still calling for Morsi's reinstatement, nor with representatives of “Tamarod,” the anti-Morsi movement that led to his fall.

Meanwhile Muslim Brotherhood representatives have blamed the United States for backing or even instigating the coup.

“The Americans carried out the military coup - they didn't just recognize the new leaders, they carried out the coup. We know, and we have specific information about the communications that preceded the coup, which proves that the US planned it and General [Abdel Fattah] el-Sissi executed it,” said Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Farid Ismail.

Burns called on the military to refrain from politically motivated arrests and asked: "If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible?"

Burns urged those opposed to Morsi's ouster to participate in the political process peacefully and said he was confident there would be a peaceful political future. "I don't think that Egypt is in danger of repeating the tragedy that we see in Syria today," he said.

The interim premier is expected to announce a transitional cabinet this week, to pave the way to parliamentary and presidential elections.

Burns' visit is the first to Egypt by a senior US official since the military toppled Morsi on July 3.

The US gives Egypt around 1.5 billion dollars of aid annually (1.14 billion euros), a large portion of which is military aid.

rg/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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