Cairo - 15 July 2013

1. SOUNDBITE (English) William Burns, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State: "During my meetings we discussed the importance for Egypt of a broadly accepted constitution. To achieve that the amendment process should be open, transparent, and inclusive so that an informed public can have channels for input into the document before the referendum. Experience teaches us that civil society can make a valuable contribution to such an amendment process. So can a media whose freedom is not restricted. As in any country, people will expect that the elections that follow an approved constitution be credible and lead to the creation of strong civilian institutions. I think that most can agree that a sustained dialogue can help Egypt reach this goal. If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible? The government itself has said it wants inclusion of all political streams. We've called on the military to avoid all politically motivated arrests and we've also called on those who differ with the government to adhere to their absolute obligation to participate peacefully. It is hard to picture how Egypt will be able to emerge from this crisis unless its people come to find a nonviolent and inclusive path forward.


CAIRO (AP) _ A senior U.S. diplomat held talks Monday with Egypt's interim leaders as well as head of the military in the highest level visit by an American official since the Egyptian army ousted the country's first democratically elected leader.

The two-day visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to Cairo comes nearly two weeks after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by the military following days of mass protests. Washington has been sharply criticized by both Morsi's supporters and opponents for what each side perceives as support for their rival's position.

Burns met with the military-backed administration led by interim President Adly Manour and Prime Minister-designate Hazem el-Beblawi, as well as army chief and Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

A Muslim Brotherhood official said the group does not currently have a meeting scheduled with Burns.