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EU to debate response to Egypt's crisis

Europe's foreign ministers are set to decide whether to scale back assistance in response to crackdown on protesters.

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 01:31
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Ashton met with Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour during her visit to Egypt last month [EPA]

Europe's foreign ministers are set to decide how to use their economic muscle to force the Egyptian government to end a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Wednesday's debate will be closely watched by all sides in Egypt's worst internal strife in its modern history, since the EU has emerged as a key mediator in the conflict.

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Follow our ongoing coverage of the political crisis in Egypt

Meanwhile, the EU's top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton, has offered to go to Egypt to help mediate a political solution to the crisis in the country.

"I have offered to go back. I told the Egyptian prime minister at the weekend that I would be more than willing to go back to Egypt, if they wish me to come back," she said.

Ashton was speaking to reporters in Brussels on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's emergency meeting, where foreign ministers will consider what steps the EU might take in response to the crisis.

The bloc's 28 governments are likely to tread carefully, mixing expressions of concern over bloodshed, with limited - if any - changes in the $6.7bn aid package Europe promised to Egypt last year, diplomats said.

UN's Feltman in Cairo

Ashton travelled twice to the country last month following the July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi after massive protests against his administration.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith has the latest from Cairo

On July 30, she was the first senior foreign official to meet Morsi who is in detention in a secret location.

During her last visit she and the EU's special envoy for the southern Mediterranean, Bernadino Leon, sought to facilitate a political deal including the Muslim Brotherhood.

But foreign mediation efforts by the EU, the US and the Gulf nations broke down. The situation in the last days has degenerated further, with almost 900 people reported dead in the last week.

Ashton said the 28-nation bloc had "worked on ideas to try and have confidence-building measures with the different groups in Egypt, across the political spectrum, and to try and help support a political solution".

"We remain ready to offer our support to achieve that, not interference, support," she said.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, has arrived in Cairo to facilitate reconciliatory dialogue. 

Feltman, who will be at the Arab League on Wednesday, will hold “wide-ranging discussion” which will focus on how the UN can best support the peace process in Egypt. 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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