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Foreign politicians 'exceed international norms’: Presidency - Daily News Egypt

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Foreign politicians ‘exceed international norms’: Presidency

Presidency criticises foreign presence in Egypt as US senators begin visit and diplomats extend their stay

Egyptian presidency on August 6, 2013, shows Egypt's Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei holding talks with the US Senator John McCain on Tuesday
Egyptian presidency on August 6, 2013, shows Egypt’s Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei holding talks with the US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham on Tuesday

The presidency’s media adviser has criticised the influx of foreign politicians to Cairo over the last week, saying it “exceeds international norms”.

Ahmed El-Moslimany’s remarks to state-run news agency MENA came a day after the arrival of United States senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, joining representatives from the US, the European Union and Gulf countries, who have extended their visits.

The political stalemate in Egypt has prompted a number of foreign visitors to Cairo to attempt to hold meetings with all the major political stakeholders, including members of the spurned Muslim Brotherhood. El-Moslimany stressed on Tuesday: “Egypt is able to protect the revolution and the state.” The presidency’s media adviser’s statement contradicts the stance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has repeatedly said foreign diplomats are welcome to visit Egypt and present ideas, as long as the decision moving forward is made by the Egyptian people.

McCain and Graham met interim Minister of Defence General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi on Tuesday. The armed forces spokesman said in a statement that the general and the senators “exchanged views on developments on the Egyptian political scene and efforts to end the state of political polarisation, renounce violence and move forward in the implementation of a map for the future.” They also discussed the importance of an inclusive political process and other matters “of common interest.” Armed forces Chief of Staff Sedki Sobhi also attended the meeting.

The Americans were hosted at the presidential palace by interim Vice-President Mohamed ElBaradei in the presence of the US ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson. Ministry of Foreign affairs spokesman Badr Abdel Atty confirmed that interim Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy would also meet the senators but believed that it would occur at the palace along with interim President Adly Mansour.

Representatives of the Anti-Coup Coalition did not respond to requests for comments regarding the senators’ visit.

McCain has previously expressed his belief that the events that lead to the ouster of Mohamed Morsi as president was a coup. He has also stated that US assistance to Egypt shout be cut; although this is something that he believes is regrettable.

The Republican senators also met founder and coordinator of the 6 April Youth Movement, Ahmed Maher, on Monday evening. Spokesman for the movement Khaled El-Masry said the senators requested to meet the group before meeting government officials. El-Masry said: “He wanted to hear our opinion and said he trusts our vision, especially on human rights.” Maher provided the visiting duo a briefing on the current situation and stressed that Morsi’s ouster was “an action by the people.”

Founder of the Tamarod or ‘Rebellion’ movement Mahmoud Badr, however, rejected a meeting with McCain. Badr confirmed his group’s refusal via social media on Monday night. He said: “We are tired of the large number of foreign visitors to Egypt and call on the international community to leave the Egyptian people alone to decide Egypt’s fate and choices.”

Deputy spokeswoman for the US State Department Marie Harf confirmed on Monday that Deputy Secretary of State William Burns had extended his visit again, saying: “We don’t have any return travel to announce at this point. He remains there.”

EU Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernardino Leon also continued his visit. Both Burns and Leon have attended meetings together and continued to do so today in a meeting with ElBaradei.

Qatari foreign minister Khalid Al-Attiyah and Emirati foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Nahyan are also currently visiting Cairo. The ministers were accompanied by both Burns and Leon in a visit to high security Al-Aqrab prison to see deputy guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Khairat El-Shater. Their visit lasted for an hour, during which they tried to reach a “compatible formula” for the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins without bloodshed. Spokesman for the Brotherhood Gehad El Haddad reported that El-Shater told the visiting diplomats that “he is not in a position to speak” telling them that Morsi “holds the key to solving your mess.”

It is not known if any of the visiting politicians have requested a meeting with Morsi. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the prosecution deals with such requests. The prosecutor general’s office was contacted but was unavailable for comment.

EU High Envoy for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and a delegation from the African Union are the only foreign diplomats to have been granted a meeting with the former president. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle was denied a visit according to the armed forces spokesman.

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