Egypt’s ousted Morsi ‘well,’ has access to news: Ashton
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks during a news conference in Cairo July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El GhanyEgypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi is “well” and has access to news, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday after meeting him at an undisclosed location.
“Morsi is well,” she told reporters, adding that he had access to newspapers and television, and describing their talks as “friendly, open and very frank.” Ashton held two hours of talks with Morsi in the early hours of Tuesday, with sources telling Agence France-Presse she left Cairo on a military helicopter. She declined to say where Morsi was being held or to characterize his comments to her.
“I’m not going to put words in his mouth,” she said. “We had a friendly, open and very frank discussion,” she added. “We talked in-depth.” Ashton arrived in Cairo on Sunday night for an intensive schedule of meetings with Egyptian government officials and opposition representatives.
Her visit came in the wake of the deaths of 82 people at a pro-Morsi rally in Cairo on Saturday morning.
She has urged an end to the bloodshed and a political transition that would include the Muslim Brotherhood organization from which Morsi hails. Ashton demanded the authorities to reduce the transition period to 9 months. The transition period includes amending the constitution followed by parliamentary elections, according to Anadolu Agency. But she said Tuesday that she was not in Egypt to push either side to take particular actions or to present an initiative. “I’m not here to ask people to do things,” she said, adding that she would be looking to find “common ground” between the sides.
‘This is your country’
“I don’t come here to say somebody should do this, somebody should do that, this is your country,” she said. “The solutions are for the Egyptian people.”
According to an earlier report from Anadolu Agency, Ashton proposed a formula in a bid to solve the crisis during her meeting with Morsi.
Ashton flew to Almaza Military Airport where Morsi was held, after meeting with interim President Adly Mansour and the army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the state-run news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources. The formula Ashton proposed would reportedly guarantee Morsi’s release, halt the investigations against him and also entail the release of members of Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups in custody in return for an end to anti-coup protests by Morsi supporters. The formula has the backing and support of Egypt’s army rulers.
France demands release of Morsi
France's foreign minister demanded Tuesday that Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi be freed, describing the political crisis as "very critical" after bloody unrest in Cairo.
"We condemn the violence... We call for dialogue and for the release of president Morsi," Laurent Fabius told reporters.
"The situation is very critical. We call for the rejection of violence and for the release of political prisoners including former president Morsi."