Protesters remained in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Monday, hundreds having camped out overnight, a day after opposition parties began tentative talks with the government.
Some demonstrators also continued to block the Mugamma administrative building for a second day in a row, thus preventing Egyptians from picking up documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and passports.
Meanwhile, Egyptian state television blamed “extremist groups” for a morning attack by unknown assailants, who used rocket-propelled grenades against security forces near Rafah, in the Sinai Peninsula, near the Gaza Strip. The attack injured two officers.
A Saturday attack in the Sinai on a pipeline used to transport natural gas to Israel and Jordan was also blamed on “terrorists” seeking to exploit the ongoing unrest in Egypt.
In Cairo, the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood held its first talks with the government in a bid to find a political solution to the crisis.
While admitting they were just at the beginning, the group said no substantive concessions had been offered. Committees were formed to look into their core demands.
Competing demands are on the table. Egyptians crowding Tahrir Square want President Hosni Mubarak to step down immediately. Others want to see a dignified exit for the man who has ruled the country since 1981.
The government, for now, is sticking to its position that Mr. Mubarak will leave in September, when his term as president comes to its natural end.
One compromise being floated suggests a gradual diminishing of Mr. Mubarak’s powers, with control shifting to vice presidents and technocrats.
In the United States, President Barack Obama stressed there was room for a democratic Egypt to emerge.
“What I want is a representative government in Egypt,” Mr. Obama said.
“And I have confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process, that we will have a government in Egypt that we can work with together as a partner.” The military was still keeping watch over Tahrir Square, though there were some signs of restlessness and efforts were being made to reduce the space available to protesters.
Elsewhere in Egypt, life was slowly returning to normal, with businesses re-opening. However, there was still no trading at the stock exchange, which has been closed since late January.