Ashton has 'in-depth' meeting with Morsi
Updated: 2013-07-31 09:56
Deposed president in good health, has access to news, EU diplomat says
The European Union's top diplomat has held an "in-depth" meeting with Egypt's ousted president, who has been held incommunicado since he was deposed in a military coup early this month, the EU said on Tuesday.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held two hours of discussions with Mohammed Morsi late on Monday, her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. Kocijancic did not say where the talks had taken place.
Ashton said on Tuesday in a televised press conference on state-run Nile TV that Morsi is in good health and has access to the news.
"He is well and has access to the news," Ashton said, noting that she does not know the location where Morsi is held.
Morsi has been held incommunicado since the military removed him from office on July 3. Egyptian authorities say he is being investigated on charges including murder, stemming from a 2011 jailbreak when he escaped detention during protests against former leader Hosni Mubarak.
Ashton has been shuttling between Egypt's rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood to try to pull the country back from more bloodshed, as one of the only outsiders accepted by both sides as a potential mediator.
Before her visit, Ashton said she deplored the weekend violence that ended in 83 protesters being killed, and she appealed for a political process that includes all groups.
There has been no indication, however, that either side was willing to heed her calls. The Brotherhood rejected the notion of working with the new leaders and called for new demonstrations on Tuesday. The government has made no conciliatory gestures.
Ashton's visit and the telephone calls US Secretary of State John Kerry made to her and to Egyptian leaders underscored the sense of urgency in the international community, where many leaders are pushing for an inclusive political process that puts an end to violence.
"I think we've been very clear that we believe an inclusive process means the participation of all parties. And certainly the detainment of many members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Mr Morsi, makes it difficult to move forward with that," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington on Monday.
Treading a fine line with a pivotal Arab ally that it gives $1.3 billion a year in military aid, the White House said on Monday that it "strongly condemns" Saturday's bloodshed and urged respect for the right to peaceful protest.
"Violence not only further sets back the process of reconciliation and democratization in Egypt, but it will negatively impact regional stability," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.