UAE's Abdullah in Egypt crisis talks
CAIRO // The Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, joined high-level talks in Cairo yesterday amid signs that the UAE is playing a key role in mediation to end Egypt's political crisis.
Sheikh Abdullah met Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, vice president Mohammed ElBaradei and military chief Gen Abdel Fattah El Sisi, the deputy prime minister and defence minister.
The Foreign Minister said Egypt had the permanent support of the UAE government and people, especially at this critical stage, and the UAE was confident the Egyptian people had the ability to overcome it and achieve stability and progress.
Gen El Sisi said there were opportunities to resolve the crisis peacefully, provided all parties renounced violence and adhered to the interim government's roadmap for the future that had been accepted by the Egyptian people.
He said the military appreciated efforts by all parties to reach a peaceful settlement to sit-in protests orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood calling for the reinstatement of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, in which more than 250 people have died in the past month.
The latest diplomatic moves follow Sheikh Abdullah's talks in London last week with the US secretary of state John Kerry, after which the Foreign Minister said: "We have to make sure that this interim government can be successful in leading Egypt to a better future.
"The UAE, with the United States and others, is doing its very best to give this government the support it needs."
Successful mediation would require finding common ground between Mr Mansour's interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has boycotted the political process since Mr Morsi was removed from office last month.
The UAE had already indicated its support for the interim government by pledging Dh11 billion in aid within hours of its establishment. Diplomats from Qatar, which supported the Morsi regime and maintains close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, are also in Cairo.
The US deputy secretary of state William Burns extended his visit to the city by a day yesterday for further talks with Gen El Sisi, and the European Union's special envoy Bernardino Leon is also there.
At the core of discussions is the political future of the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies. The Brotherhood says it is looking for meaningful concessions before beginning talks with the interim administration.
These measures could include releasing detained Brotherhood leaders, unfreezing the group's assets, lifting a ban on Islamist television stations loyal to Mr Morsi and reining in the use of force against its protesters.
Mr Morsi has been held at undisclosed locations since July 3. He faces charges of plotting with militants from Hamas to escape from prison in 2011.
The Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and his deputy Khairat El Shater will stand trial this month for complicity and incitement in the killing of eight demonstrators outside the group's Cairo headquarters.
Mr Badie is at still large and Mr El Shater is in custody. The killings took place during the first day of the mass street protests calling for Mr Morsi's removal.
Pro-Morsi protesters yesterday blocked a major road that runs through most of Cairo and leads to its international airport, and the latest diplomatic flurry in the city comes amid signs that the interim administration's patience with such protests is running out.
The National Defence Council, which is led by the interim president and includes top cabinet ministers, said the search for a peaceful resolution was not open-ended. The council also said a negotiated resolution would not shield from legal proceedings what it called "law-breakers" and others who incite against the state.
It said a chance should be given to all "negotiations and mediations" that could end the protests without bloodshed, but that the timeframe should be "defined and limited". It also called on the protesters to abandon the sit-ins and join the political road map.
With the Islamist-backed constitution adopted last year suspended and the legislature dominated by Mr Morsi's supporters dissolved, the road map provides for a new or an amended constitution to be put to a national referendum later this year and presidential and parliamentary elections early in 2014.
In a move that underlined the government's resolve in dealing with the protests, authorities yesteday denied Yemen's Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman entry into Egypt after she landed at Cairo airport.
Karman, the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace prize, has stated her opposition to the removalof Mr Morsi and said she had intended to join the pro-Morsi protests.
Airport officials said she was sent back on the flight that brought her to Cairo from the UAE. They did not say why she was denied entry, only that her name had been placed by various security agencies on a stop list at the airport.
* Reporting by Wam and the Associated Press
Updated: August 5, 2013 04:00 AM