A top U.S. diplomat met early on Monday a jailed senior leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, part of mediation efforts to end the standoff between Egypt’s military-backed government and protesters supporting the ousted president, government officials said.
They said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met in prison with Khairat el-Shater, the powerful deputy head of the Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which deposed President Mohamed Morsy hails. Mr Burns was accompanied by the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well as an EU envoy.
El-Shater is charged with complicity in the killing of anti-Morsy protesters.
Mr Burns and the three other diplomats are in Egypt as part of international efforts to end a standoff between Mr Morsy’s supporters and the government installed by the military after it toppled the Islamist president in a July 3 coup.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The U.S. Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.
More than a month after Mr Morsy’s ouster, thousands of the Islamist leader’s supporters remain camped out in two key squares in Cairo demanding his reinstatement. Egypt’s military-backed interim leadership has issued a string of warnings for them to disperse or security forces will move in, setting the stage for a potential showdown.
Already, some 250 people have been killed in violence since Mr Morsy’s ouster, including at least 130 in two major clashes between security forces and Mr Morsy supporters on July 8 and on July 26 and early July 27.