Rival political parties and groups in Egypt have pledged support for national dialogue to end the ongoing political crisis and condemned the violence which has killed dozens in a week of unrest.
Grand Imam Ahmed el Tayeb, the top Islamic scholar, had called for Thursday's talks between liberal opposition heads, youth groups, independents and church members at the headquarters of Al-Azhar University.
They signed an Al-Azhar document vowing to support "a serious dialogue" and "condemn all forms of violence and incitement to violence", and stressing "the responsibility of the state and its security apparatus to protect citizens".
In opening remarks, Tayeb said a "national dialogue including all segments of society is the only way to resolve all the difference".
|Follow spotlight coverage of the struggling young democracy
Such a dialogue would constitute a "guarantee against the monopolisation of power which leads to tyranny", Tayeb said.
"We come out of these talks with some sort of optimism," despite "the difficult challenges ahead", former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF), said.
Apart from ElBaradei, also present at the talks was fellow NSF leader and Amr Moussa, former Arab League chief.
Last attempt for dialogue
Saad al-Katatni, head of the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, likewise attended, along with other Islamist parties.
The meeting was the latest attempt to strike up a dialogue between Egypt's political factions.
Even with few concrete points agreed, the talks marked a coup for Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's President, whose calls for dialogue were snubbed by the opposition last week.
But it remained to be seen whether the Al-azhar document would carry weight on the streets, where clashes between protesters and police have killed dozens since rallies marking the second anniversary of Egypt's uprising last week.
Opposition groups have already called for mass protests on Friday against Morsi, who is accused of betraying the revolution that brought him to the presidency and of consolidating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood.
A week of deadly unrest has left almost 60 people dead and the country deeply split between Morsi's Islamist allies and an opposition of leftists, liberals, Christians as well as religious Muslims.