Morsi well says Ashton after two-hour visit
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton speaks during a news conference.
Concluding her latest visit to Egypt, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton pledged to return and urged politicians to make “the right decisions”. The first outsider to meet deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi since he was put under house arrest nearly a month ago, she said he is well and has access to newspapers and television.
“If people are in leadership positions and detained politically, then that needs to be addressed because bringing people together, finding a common way forward, building confidence . . . is absolutely vital,” she stated.
Ms Ashton said she would not have paid her high-profile visit to Cairo if she had been denied a meeting with Mr Morsi, but dismissed reports she offered him a “safe exit” and refused to reveal what was discussed at their two-hour meeting. She insisted she had not travelled to Egypt after 80 were slain in clashes in Cairo and Alexandria to tell Egyptians what to do, but to “help the people of Egypt to determine their own future.
“This great country has to move forward, and has to do so in an inclusive way,” she said. While arguing the right to peaceful protest must be respected, she asserted, “We need to find a calm solution to the situation.”
The Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy reiterated to her its demand for Mr Morsi’s reinstatement and refused to recognise his ouster which the alliance claims was the result of a military coup. The “return of the president is the basis of the solution”, the alliance stated, denying charges its supporters are armed or have engaged in violence.
She also held discussions with members of the caretaker government, including army chief Abedel-Fattah al-Sisi, who effected Mr Morsi’s removal and vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei.
During their joint press conference, he said Mr Morsi “failed to manage the political process and he has to realise that we are living in a new stage after the [June 30th] uprising [against him] . . . There is a new roadmap.
“Violence is not a solution. It only deepens problems. I hope no violence will occur in breaking [up] the sit-ins, which should be handled in conformance with the law.”
Her presence did not, however, halt violence or detentions. There were clashes between pro-Morsi marchers and police in Ismailiya and Mansoura, leaving 17 injured.
In Cairo, a pro-Morsi march passed off quietly when women were prevented from reaching the defence ministry by troops and razor wire.
Egypt’s prosecutor also ordered 15-days of detention for moderate fundamentalist party leader Aboul-Ela Madi and spokesman Essam Sultan on suspicion of inciting violence at the pro-Morsi Nasr City encampment where three men were said to have been fatally tortured.
Many Egyptians at the two Cairo Brotherhood protest sites fear arrest if they depart.