British PM holds talks in Egypt

Cameron discusses military-to-civilian transition with interim leaders but avoids Muslim Brotherhood representatives.

    David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, is in Egypt to urge a "genuine transition" to democracy, becoming the first world leader to visit the country since the overthrow of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

    Arriving in Cairo on Monday, Cameron held talks with Hussein Tantawi, the country's de facto military ruler, and Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister, local agencies reported.

    "This is a great opportunity for us to go and talk to those currently running Egypt to make sure this really is a genuine transition from military rule to civilian rule, and see what friendly countries like Britain and others in Europe can do to help," Cameron said.

    However, British officials said their leader would not speak with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest political group that want democracy founded on Islamic principles.

    Officials said it would be preferable for Cameron to meet other opposition groups to highlight that Islamic groups were not the only alternative to Mubarak.

    "What is so refreshing about what's been happening is that this is not an Islamist revolt," Cameron said.

    "This is not extremists on the streets. This is people who want to have the sort of basic freedoms that we take for granted in the United Kingdom."

    His visit comes amid a backdrop of unrest in the pan-Arab world, with violent uprisings in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Algeria.

    Cameron is also expected to urge Egypt's interim rulers to end the emergency rule implemented by Mubarak after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, his predecessor, in 1981, and discuss trade ties with the country.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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