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Ashton's mediation likely to speed up national reconciliation in Egypt

By Marwa Yahya (Xinhua)

15:08, July 31, 2013

CAIRO, July 30 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton's talks with Egypt's deeply divided factions are likely to push up the national reconciliation, and swiftly put an end to violence, analysts said.

Describing a foreign mediation between national forces in Egypt as wired, Salah Salem, professor in political science in Cairo University, said "chances for Western mediation's success in Egypt now are very promising."

This is an unprecedented case in Egypt that a foreign mediator interferes in reconciliation among political powers, Salem pointed out.

"The West is more qualified for the mediation process more than the internal polarized sides," the professor said, adding that the West is more acknowledgeable of the confidential matters in Egypt, as it is always briefed on the backstage secrets by the Egyptian political forces.

The West has never lost its influence in Egypt, and Egypt has never got out of the umbrella of the West, especially the United States, he said. "The chance for Western or U.S. mediation is much bigger than any Arab or local side," Salem added.

Ashton proposed the EU's initiatives to end violence and resolve the current political crisis in Egypt before wrapping up her visit on Tuesday.

She held talks with senior Egyptian officials, including interim President Adli Mansour, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, and Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. She also met ousted president Mohamed Morsi and representatives of the pro-Morsi coalition.

During the meetings, the EU top diplomat urged all sides to "think carefully" about the way to include "all" in the political process in order to build a "deep democracy."

"Ashton's second visit in less than two weeks shows the importance of placating the confused political situation in the most populous Arab country," Noha Bakar, professor of political science at American University in Cairo said.

Her visit echoed the West's desire to deal with the transitional period and its keenness on the success of democratic transitional period, Baker pointed out.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ashton expressed optimism about the present situation in Egypt, asserting "Egyptians should move forward, and stop all acts of violence in the country."

Over the national reconciliation, she called on all political factions to be united to find the way to the future via agreement.

Despite the Islamists' rejection to enter the national reconciliation process, as they don't acknowledge the armed forces' step to topple their legitimate president, or its roadmap, a delegation from the Islamic forces topped by the once-ruling Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the ultra-conservative Nour party agreed to hold talks with Ashton.

They would hold talks with Ashton to guarantee a safe way out, Baker added, saying their acceptance implied success for the national dialogue by their potential participation.

Sitting with all forces and attempting to find a formula for agreement is a difficult task that Ashton succeeded, Baker reiterated.

"The success will be sufficient for the current stage, and Ashton's visit has only convinced some rejecting parties to sit together, which will happen soon," he said.

The MB realized that Morsi won't come back and they should seek reconciliation to renew their appearance in the political life, by mobilizing their supporters in the parliamentary elections rather than protests, Baker added.

By contrast, Nabil Zaki, a political expert sees no room for Ashton's initiatives, saying the West didn't release the difference between popular uprising and the military coup, and doesn't understand the Egyptian reality, or respect the Egyptians' demands.

He asserted the West, including the United States, have lost their magic in Egypt, and their aides are valueless, as the Egyptians now are governing their own destiny.

The Development and Construction Party, the political arm for the hardline Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya group, said in a statement on Tuesday that Ashton proposed Morsi's safe exit and release of Islamists detainees, in return for clearing the squares from Islamic protesters and stopping all the demonstrating activities.

The statement noted that Morsi cares about preserving legitimacy and democracy rather than his safe exit.

It said Ashton's initiatives present nothing new, as calls for all forces to sit at one table and integrate in the roadmap are already proposed before by the army and the president.

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