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Ashton to meet with Mansour, Sisi, party leaders this week

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Catherine Ashton is scheduled to meet with public officials; ministry says meetings with FJP would be permitted

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (AFP  File Photo)

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
(AFP File Photo)

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to meet with a wide range of high-ranking government and public officials during this week, according to a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ashton is scheduled to meet Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy, who recently returned from New York City, on Wednesday. The EU envoy will meet with interim President Adly Mansour, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, his deputy Ziad Bahaa Eddin, and Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Thursday. She will also meet with Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution, Amr Moussa.

Ashton’s visit will also include meetings with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb and head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II, and is also scheduled to meet representatives from various political forces, including the Salafi Al-Nour Party to discuss bilateral relations between Egypt and the EU.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, according to the statement, would be permitted to meet Ashton, as the party is not banned. However, the ministry said, the party leaders that would meet with Ashton should be legally free of any judicial rulings, said the ministry.

The EU High Representative will also discuss regional developments including the Syrian civil war and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The foreign ministry’s statement said that Egypt would not allow mediation from any foreign party with respect to internal affairs and that reconciliation could only be achieved by Egyptians alone, denying that Ashton was part of any sort of initiative with this respect.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that Ashton had not requested a second meeting with ousted president Mohamed Morsi and that it was “something that could not be accepted” in any case.

EU Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernadino Leon visited Cairo two weeks ago and met with officials from several political parties and Constituent Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa. He also met with Amr Darrag and Mohamed Ali Bishr representing groups that oppose the change in power that occurred in July when Morsi was removed as president.

Ashton met Morsi, who is being detained in an undisclosed location, earlier this summer.

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