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Egypt’s MB Conditions US Talks on Govt. OK
Egypt’s MB Conditions US Talks on Govt. OK  “It (dialogue) should take place under the supervision of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry,” Habib said  Additional Reporting By Ahmed Fathy, IOL Correspondent – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has set as a condition a state supervision over any possible dialogue with the United States, after the group’s stunning perf
Monday, December 12,2005 00:00
by By Ahmed Fathy, IOL Correspondent

Egypt’s MB Conditions US Talks on Govt. OK

 
“It (dialogue) should take place under the supervision of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry,” Habib said

 
Additional Reporting By Ahmed Fathy, IOL Correspondent

– Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has set as a condition a state supervision over any possible dialogue with the United States, after the group’s stunning performance in the country’s month-long parliamentary elections.

“It should take place under the supervision of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry,” Mohamed Habib, the first deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood Guide-General, told IslamOnline.net Friday, December 9.

The officially banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood won 88 seats in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, six times the number of MPs it had in the outgoing chamber.

By clinching almost 20 percent of parliamentary seats, the group made the most serious dent in President Hosni Mubarak’s 24-year-old autocratic rule.

Habib said the group would first look into the proposed agenda for dialogue with Washington.

"It must include the pressing issues related to developments in the region as well as the Islamic issues," Habib said, referring to the fierce anti-Islam campaigns in the West.

He added the US administration should also avoid interfering in the affairs of countries in the region.

"Every country has its own characteristics and any foreign interference sparks many troubles," he told IOL.

In March 2004, the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the US-proposed Greater Middle East Initiative.

“Egypt’s reform agenda should come from within,” Habib had said then.

Habib’s comments Friday, December 9, were in response to reports that Washington has signaled possible contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood after its strong showing in the parliamentary polls.

Possible Contacts

 
Ereli, however, said the United States would respect Egyptian law prohibiting contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization.

 
A senior State Department official suggested US officials might be in touch with victorious members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Thursday, December 8.

"I would expect us to meet with the independent candidates," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Washington, however, has refused to acknowledge the group’s strong showing, recognizing only that an unprecedented number of "independents" had won in the polls despite widespread violence and intimidation.

Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has maintained its grip on power, having won, along with affiliated independents, a total of 314 seats in the 444-member legislature.

"Broadening Opposition"

Deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, however, said the United States would respect Egyptian law prohibiting contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization.

He stressed that winning Brotherhood candidates were elected as independents.

Asked if Washington would deal with them, he said, "There’s no injunction that I’m aware of that would prevent that."

Without mentioning the Muslim Brotherhood, the US spokesman hailed the parliamentary elections in Egypt as producing a "historic" broadening of opposition and independent representation in the parliament.

"We think that’s going to have a substantial impact on political life in Egypt. And that’s positive," Ereli said.

"That’s a sign that pluralism and democracy has taken a step forward in Egypt."

The growing political clout of Islamic groups has put Washington in something of a quandary, caught between supporting democratic processes and a refusal to have dealings with Islamic groups, allegedly linked to violence.

The problem has been particularly sharp with resistance groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, which have both scored well on the political front despite their US label as terrorists.

A memo drawn up by the US State Department has recently called for direct and permanent political dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood had earlier denied that the group had been locked in talks with the US, stressing that the Muslim Brotherhood rejected any reform recipe from abroad.


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