US, EU urge Egypt to reach agreement

US, EU urge Egypt to reach agreement

US, EU urge Egypt to reach agreement

Morsi supporters attend the Eid al-Fitr prayers near al-Adawiya mosque. AP Photo

The United States and the European Union urged Aug. 7 Egypt’s battling political factions and military to agree a path for a return to democratic rule but put the emphasis on the interim government.

Interim President Adly Mansour has declared that international diplomatic efforts to resolve the political crisis had failed and the government warned protesters to leave their protest camps, saying the decision to remove them was final.

Washington and Brussels sent envoys, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and EU Special Representative Bernadino Leon, to Cairo to talk to the army-imposed interim government and to its Muslim Brotherhood opponents.

But their outreach was rebuffed, and Aug. 7 US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton released a joint statement. “While further violent confrontations have thus far been avoided, we remain concerned and troubled that government and opposition leaders have not yet found a way to break a dangerous stalemate and agree to implement tangible confidence building measures,” they said.

“The Egyptian government bears a special responsibility to begin this process to ensure the safety and welfare of its citizens,” the statement continued. “This remains a very fragile situation, which holds not only the risk of more bloodshed and polarization in Egypt, but also impedes the economic recovery which is so essential for Egypt’s successful transition,” they said. “Now is not the time to assess blame, but to take steps that can help initiate a dialogue and move the transition forward.” Kerry and Ashton underlined that both the United States and Europe would support any Egyptian-led attempt to find a negotiated solution to the political crisis, but insisted this must include a return to elected rule.

 “We are convinced that a successful democratic transition can help Egypt lead the rest of the region toward a better future, as it has so often done during its rich and proud history,” they said.

 Egypt’s interim government, which was installed last month by the military after troops overthrew Morsi, has demanded that his Islamist supporters bring an end to their large-scale street protests and sit-ins. This has increased fears that the already tense situation could descend into violence.