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Govt, opposition meet in Egypt

(China Daily)
Updated: 2011-02-07 10:27
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Govt, opposition meet in Egypt
An Egyptian anti-government protester prays next to an army tank in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday as Egyptians gather for the 12th consecutive day calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. [Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO - Egypt's prominent opposition, Muslim Brotherhood, held dialogue with Vice-President Omar Suleiman on Sunday, the first such meeting as the nationwide protests entered the 13th day, local media reported.

Spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsy and Mohammed Saad El Katatny participated in the meeting, together with other opposition figures, such as Mohamed ElBaradei, state- run newspaper Al Ahram reported on its website.

The topics will be centered on power transition and the future of the most populous nation in the Arab world, they said.

"We will join the talks today," Essam el-Erian told AFP, referring to talks between Vice-President Omar Suleiman and opposition groups "to discuss an interim period and electing a new parliament representing the people."

He said the Islamist group had agreed to join talks between the authorities and opposition groups, but warned it would drop out if there is no one to represent the young protesters who have occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square.

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"We have been invited. We will go. But our participation is conditional on giving the youth representation," he said. "If the demands of the youth are not met, we have the right to reconsider our position."

The group said that it was entering talks with the authorities for the people, in the rally demanding a regime change and Mubarak's departure.

"Keeping in mind the interests of the nation and its institutions and concerned about preserving the country's independence... we decided to begin talks to see up to what point they are ready to accept the demands of the people," a Brotherhood official told AFP.

For his part, Suleiman had said earlier that an invitation for dialogue between the government and opposition groups had been extended to the Muslim Brotherhood group, but said that the Brothers were "hesitant."

The group, which had rejected the government's offer for talks, changed its mind after all the executive committee members of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party, including President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, resigned en masse on Saturday, the 12th day of Egypt's unrest, which saw fewer protesters in Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square.

The resignation of the ruling party leadership was Mubarak's latest move to appease protestors demanding his resignation. According to analysts, it erased any chances for Gamal Mubarak to succeed the presidency.

Before the Muslim Brotherhood, two other main Egyptian opposition parties, namely El Wafd and El Tagammu, consented to dialogues with the new cabinet on Saturday, in response to calls from Suleiman.

With the Muslim Brotherhood on board, almost all legal political parties have agreed to dialogue with the government.

Mubarak announced on Tuesday that he did not intend to run for next term. But he insisted on staying in power until his term ends after presidential elections in September.

The military, which is crucial for deciding whether the embattled president will step down, has so far given no hint of its stance.

Xinhua - AFP