May 20, 2013
Merkel urges Egypt's Mursi to hold crisis dialogue
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Egypt's Islamist president today to open a dialogue with all political forces in the crisis-ridden Arab country after a week of violence that has killed more than 50 people.
President Mohamed Mursi flew to Germany to try to convince Europe of his democratic credentials, but in a sign of the political tensions back home, he restricted his trip to a few hours and canceled a planned Paris leg.
"One thing that is important for us is that the line for dialogue is always open to all political forces in Egypt, that the different political forces can make their contribution, that human rights are adhered to in Egypt and that of course religious freedom can be experienced," Merkel told Mursi at a joint news conference.
The Egyptian leader, who has faced months of protests by liberal and youth groups opposed to a new Islamic constitution, replied that dialogue was possible and that Egypt would be a state based on the rule of law, not run by the military.
But he refused to give a commitment sought by the opposition to form a national unity government, saying that would be for the new parliament to decide after elections expected in April.
Two more protesters were shot dead before dawn near Cairo's central Tahrir Square on the seventh day of what has become the deadliest wave of unrest since Mursi took power in June.
The army chief warned on Tuesday that the state was on the brink of collapse if Mursi's opponents and supporters did not end street battles that have marked the two-year anniversary of the revolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.