Ashton meets Egypt's grand imam, Moussa

Al-Azhar officials asked reporters to leave the premises of the religious institution after the latter were told there were no plans for a press conference.

Ashton meets Egypt's grand imam, Moussa

World Bulletin/News Desk

European Union's top foreign policy official held talks on Wednesday with Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, with whom she discussed the religious institution's role in "fulfilling the army-imposed roadmap to restore stability to Egypt," an Azhar source said.

According to the source, EU officials had declined to hold a press conference following the meeting.

Catherine Ashton, the top EU diplomat, had also declined to speak to reporters ahead of the meeting.

Al-Azhar officials asked reporters to leave the premises of the religious institution after the latter were told there were no plans for a press conference.

The army deposed elected President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 following mass protests against him and the Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails.

It also suspended Egypt's constitution -- approved late last year via popular referendum -- and promised fresh parliamentary and presidential elections within nine months.

Ashton had earlier met with Amr Moussa, the former Arab League chief and current head of a 50-member panel tasked with amending the constitution.

The EU's top diplomat again issued no statement following the meeting.

Moussa, for his part, said he sensed a "positive development" regarding the European position on the situation in Egypt.

He added that Ashton's visit "aims to follow up on developments in the country," noting that the EU's foreign policy czar had stressed the importance of Egypt's regional role and the EU's desire to help the country's political transition.

Moussa said Ashton had reiterated the EU's commitment to supporting Egypt's transition and had showed "understanding" for Egypt's new situation.

Moussa went on to deny reports that the meeting had also discussed calls to release detained Muslim Brotherhood leaders or initiatives aimed at national reconciliation.

Ashton had earlier met with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, with whom she discussed EU-Egypt ties and the latest political developments.

An EU diplomatic source said the meeting had tackled possible EU mediation between Egypt's new military-installed rulers and the embattled Islamist opposition.

"The EU will remain a main partner for Egypt," the source said. "There will be talks on boosting economic cooperation in the coming period."

Ashton's discussions with Fahmy also tackled the ongoing crisis in Syria and renewed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Following the meeting, both sides declined to issue statements or hold press conferences.

Ashton arrived in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday evening for her third visit to the country since Morsi's July 3 ouster by Egypt's military establishment.

During her two-day visit, Ashton is due to meet with a number of senior Egyptian officials, including interim President Adly Mansour, army chief and Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi and Deputy Premier Ziad Baha Eddin.

Ashton's itinerary also includes meetings with Mohamed Ali Beshr and Amr Darrag, representatives of the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy (a coalition of Islamist groups which demand Morsi's reinstatement), as well as with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

On Tuesday, a diplomatic source said that Ashton would try to persuade Muslim Brotherhood leaders to join a "national dialogue" and contest upcoming parliamentary polls.

In return, the source said, Egypt's military-backed government would halt its ongoing crackdown on the beleaguered Islamist group.

The biggest challenge facing Ashton will be persuading the Brotherhood to accept the army-imposed political "roadmap," the source said.

The source went on to rule out any possible meetings between Ashton and Morsi.

Ashton reportedly met the deposed leader behind closed doors during the diplomat's earlier visit to Egypt in July, shortly after his removal.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Ekim 2013, 17:11

Muhammed Öylek

Hilmar Lorenz
Hilmar Lorenz - 9 yıl Önce

I am very glad that, by Mrs Ahston's visit to the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, Europe has implicitly recognized the key role of AL Azhar for a reconciliation between Egypt's military and the Muslim Brotherhood. This key role is founded on the moderate Islam that has been preached by AL Azhar for centuries.