Egypt's biggest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said on Wednesday it would stick to its demand that President Hosni Mubarak step down in talks with the authorities that many in the opposition fear are a trick.
The Brotherhood and other opposition groups began talks with Vice President Omar Suleiman this week on political reforms promised by the government during two weeks of protests against Mubarak's rule.
However, senior Brotherhood member Essam al-Erian said they had yet to tackle the central issue. "The real talks on transfer of power have not started," he told a news conference.
"This is a struggle over the stubbornness of one man," he said, referring to Mubarak. "Everyone says you have no authority and are out of government. How can one person insist against the will of 80 million (Egyptians)?"
"Second meeting in days"
Saad al-Katatny, who represented the Brotherhood in the talks with Suleiman, said a second meeting would take place within days but they would remain preliminary. "We have to have patience before real talks start. The main thing is that the talks are serious when they do begin," he said.
The Brotherhood is caught between the desire to deal with the authorities it cannot be sure will not survive, and meeting the demands of protesters on the streets.
Suleiman has said the government-opposition talks are a "valuable opportunity" for the Brotherhood that it should not pass up.
The group had said at one stage it would not enter into talks with Suleiman at all, and says it will not seek the presidency in elections due in September.
U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks said, Suleiman was long seen by Israel as the preferred candidate to succeed Mubarak.
The Egyptian government hopes the talks on political and constitutional reforms will take the sting out of the protests and help to outflank the demand for Mubarak to resign. It says economic recovery needs the sit-in in central Cairo to end.
On Tuesday Egyptians staged one of the biggest demonstrations yet at Tahrir Square and organisers plan more mass protests on Friday.
In comments to newspaper editors published on Tuesday, Suleiman said the government could not tolerate the protesters' occupation of the central square much longer.
Mohammed Mursi, a former Brotherhood member of parliament, attacked the remarks.
"The vice president's comments are an unacceptable threat to the Egyptian people," he said. "The protesters have created a new legitimacy that must be respected and cannot be threatened."
AgenciesGüncelleme Tarihi: 10 Şubat 2011, 15:04