Supporters of Egypt’s toppled president, Mohamed Morsi, have held firm on their insistence that he be reinstated after talks with a senior US official aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Following a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, the political arm of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood stressed its continued commitment to “legitimacy, which stipulates the return of the president, the constitution and the Shura Council,” referring to the upper house of parliament.
Their sit in protests in Cairo against army rule continued, with demonstrators at one point blocking roads around the Rabaa Mosque, in Nasr City, when police officers attempted to enter the area.
The Brotherhood told Al Jazeera that police were attempting to arrest a leader of the organisation when they were thwarted by protesters.
Egypt’s army-backed rulers and allies of deposed President Mohamed Morsi have given the first signs of a readiness to compromise, pressed by Western envoys trying to head off more bloodshed.
However, a statement from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party said: “We affirm our welcome of any political solutions proposed on the basis of constitutional legitimacy and rejection of the coup.”
Recognising for the first time the strength of popular protest against his one-year rule, Morsi’s allies said on Saturday they respected the demands of millions who took to the streets before his overthrow.
Also on Saturday, the interim foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, offered an “open invitation” for all groups to take part in a road map for reconciliation but first called for an end to violence.
His comments came as Egyptian police called on supporters of Morsi to abandon their sit-ins, saying it would pave the way for his Muslim Brotherhood to return to a normal role in the country’s political process.
Fahmy said: “We cannot truly achieve reconciliation, no matter how hard we try, if there is a continuation of incitement of violence or a continuation of violence out on the street.”
Meanwhile, backers of Morsi on Saturday carried on with their weeks-long rallies in two encampments in Cairo.
Tarek El-Malt, a spokesman for the pro-Morsi bloc, said on Saturday his group wanted a solution that would “respect all popular desires”, while rejecting any role for the army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of Morsi, in any political deal.
El-Malt said that these messages had been given at talks on Saturday in Cairo with the US Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns, and the European Union envoy Bernadino Leon.
Sisi, meanwhile, urged the US to use its leverage over the Muslim Brotherhood to end a political crisis.
He also told the Washington Post newspaper on Saturday that he did not “aspire for authority”.
He also accused the US administration of failing to properly support Egypt.
“You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that,” Sisi was quoted as saying. “Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?”
The US has walked a delicate line on Egypt, opting against labeling Morsi’s removal a “coup”.