15 July 2013

Egypt: U.S. Diplomat Bill Burns Visits Egypt in Wake of Morsi Ouster

The first senior US official has arrived in Egypt following the ouster of President Morsi. Under Secretary of State Bill Burns will hold talks with Egypt's interim government as thousands plan to return to the streets.

The under secretary of state arrived in Cairo on Monday for a two-day visit that will see him meet leaders of Egypt's new military-backed government.

At meetings in Cairo with various parties, Burns will push for "an end to all violence and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government" the US State Department announced in a statement.

The Egyptian security apparatus has launched a massive crackdown against leading Islamists and their followers. There are indications that the Muslim Brotherhood is being used as a scapegoat. (15.07.2013)

His visit comes amid ongoing turmoil in Egypt following the overthrow of the nation's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, on July 3. The US administration has so far avoided calling Morsi's overthrow a coup, as alleged by the former president's Muslim Brotherhood movement. Doing so would legally require a freeze on some $1.3 billion (994.5 million euros) the United States gives Egypt in military aid every year.

Although Morsi's ouster was backed by millions who took to the streets demanding his resignation, severe tensions remain between the former president's supporters and opponents. Thousands are expected to return to the streets of Cairo on Monday amid fears of further clashes.

Violent protests have resulted in the deaths of at least 92 people, including 53 Morsi supporters killed by soldiers outside the elite Republican Guard's Cairo headquarters on July 8. The Muslim Brotherhood described the incident as a "massacre," although the army claimed to have defended itself from an attack on troops by demonstrators.

Cabinet appointments

The visit comes as Egypt's interim prime minister puts the final touches on a new Cabinet.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi appointed several key positions on Sunday, including the economist Ahmed Galal as finance minister and former ambassador to the US Nabil Fahmy as foreign minister.

Meanwhile, longtime opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei, 71, was sworn in as interim vice president for foreign relations.

Beblawi is expected to unveil his full Cabinet on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraconservative Islamist party Al-Nour have confirmed that they will not join the interim government.

Under a political roadmap drafted by the military, interim President Adly Mansour has vowed to hold parliamentary elections in roughly six months' time, returning Egypt to civilian rule.

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