World Bulletin/News Desk
European Union's top foreign policy official, currently in Cairo for a two-day visit, met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on Wednesday.
Catherine Ashton arrived in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday evening for her third visit to the country since the July 3 ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi.
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, Deputy Premier Ziad Baha Eddin, and Amr Moussa, who currently heads up a panel tasked with amending the constitution.
According to an EU diplomatic source, Ashton's talks with Fahmy tackled EU-Egypt ties and the latest political developments in Egypt.
Meeting participants also discussed the possibility of EU mediation between Egypt's new military-installed rulers and the embattled Islamist opposition, the source said.
"The European Union will remain a main partner for Egypt," he said. "There will be talks about boosting economic cooperation in the coming period."
Planned talks are also expected to tackle the crisis in Syria and renewed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
Following Ashton's meeting with Fahmy, she is scheduled to head to the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament) where she will meet with Moussa.
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 that demand Morsi's reinstatement), along with Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb and Coptic Orthodox Pope Towadros 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 group.
The biggest challenge facing Ashton will be persuading the Brotherhood to accept an army-imposed "roadmap" for Egypt's political future, the source said.
The source ruled out a possible meeting between Ashton and ousted Morsi.
Egypt's first-ever democratically elected leader, Morsi was removed by the country's powerful military establishment on July 3 following large and well-coordinated protests against his presidency.
He has not been seen in public since and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Ashton met Morsi during an earlier visit to Egypt in July, shortly after the Islamist leader's removal.Last Mod: 02 Ekim 2013, 12:59