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EU envoy allowed to visit ousted Morsi

Spokesman for Ashton said EU envoy Bernadino Leon would travel to Cairo on Wednesday.

An Egyptian man, supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi kisses a poster of him as worshipers gather for prayer outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque on 11 July, 2013. Picture:AFP

CAIRO - Egypt allowed Europe's top diplomat to meet deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on Monday, flying her after dark to Morsi's secret detention facility but ruling out any role for him in ending the turmoil convulsing the country.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, became the first outsider to see Morsi since he was deposed by the army on July 3, taken into detention and placed under investigation on charges including murder.

His fate - and a deadly crackdown by security forces on his supporters - has raised global anxiety about a possible bid to crush Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that emerged from decades in the shadows to win power in elections after the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

The state's MENA news agency reported early on Wednesday that an African delegation headed by former Malian President Alfa Omar Konari held a one-hour meeting with Morsi.

The agency gave no details on the visit or when it took place but said some of the delegation's members will host a news conference later on Wednesday after meeting with Arab League officials to discuss the latest developments in Egypt.

Ashton had revealed little about what she called a "friendly, open and very frank" two-hour conversation with the deposed president.

"I've tried to make sure that his family knows he is well," said Ashton, who has emerged as one of the only figures accepted by both sides as mediator in a conflict that has found the United States cast as a meddling hand.

Flown to the meeting by military helicopter, Ashton said Morsi had access to television and newspapers and was informed about the situation in the country. "I saw where he was," she said. "I don't know where he is, but I saw the facilities he has."

Ashton spent Monday shuttling between Egypt's rulers and the Brotherhood to try to pull the country back from more bloodshed.

ARMY INCHARGE

Nearly 300 people have been killed in violence since Morsi was removed, including 80 of his supporters who were gunned down at dawn on Saturday as they marched from a month-long vigil at a mosque in northern Cairo.

The crisis has left Washington treading a fine line with a pivotal Arab ally that it funds with $1.3 billion a year in military aid and whose stability is of crucial importance to Middle East peace.

On Tuesday, Lindsey Graham said he and fellow US Republican Senator John McCain hoped to travel to Egypt next week at the request of President Barack Obama. Graham said specifics of the trip, including whom they would meet, had not yet been decided.

Ashton stressed the need for an "inclusive" process to ending the confrontation, one that would necessarily include the Brotherhood. But Egypt's army-installed interim government made clear Morsi would not be part of it.

"I think there is a new road map," ElBaradei said. "Mr Morsi failed, but the Brotherhood very much continues to be part of the political process and we would like them to continue to be part of the political process."

He said an end to violence would allow the shutdown of the Brotherhood's sit-in protests and create room for dialogue.

CALL TO FREE MORSI

Meeting Morsi was a condition of Ashton's offer to visit Egypt, where she also met the general who removed him and other leaders on her second trip in 12 days.

Egypt's authorities say Morsi is being investigated on accusations including murder, stemming from a 2011 jail break when he escaped detention during protests against Mubarak.

The Brotherhood says the accusations, including conspiring with the Palestinian group Hamas, are absurd and trumped up to justify his detention. He has not been officially charged.

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