Cairo - A US envoy met Egyptian officials on Saturday amid
efforts to find a peaceful solution to the stand-off between supporters of
ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and the army-installed interim
William Burns met Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, the official
MENA news agency reported, hours after seeing members of Morsi's Muslim
Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.
The talks come as tensions mounted over the looming break-up
of two sit-ins in Cairo staged by Morsi loyalists which have paralysed parts of
the city and deepened divisions.
Burns' visit is his second since the army's July 3 ouster of
Morsi, and comes after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visited to help
broker a peaceful solution.
EU Middle East envoy Bernardino Leon and German Foreign
Minister Guido Westerwelle also visited Cairo this week to urge both sides to
reach a compromise.
The flurry of diplomatic activity comes as Morsi loyalists
vowed to keep fighting for his reinstatement despite police calls to lift the
They staged defiant rallies on Friday, but plans for four
later marches, including to two key army headquarters, fizzled out after police
dispersed a new sit-in outside the Media Production City in a Cairo suburb.
Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egypt-born head of al-Qaeda,
accused the United States of "plotting" Morsi's overthrow with
Egypt's military and its Christian minority.
"Crusaders and secularists and the Americanised army
have converged ... with Gulf money and American plotting to topple Mohamed
Morsi's government," he said in a 15-minute audio recording posted on
militant Islamist forums.
In his first comments since the 3 July coup, Zawahiri also
attacked Morsi's secular opposition and Coptic Christians, who he said wanted a
secessionist state in Egypt, and called for a mass movement to instal Islamic
Morsi supporters began to march after Friday prayers,
pouring out of several mosques in Cairo.
An early evening protest outside Cairo's media production
city descended into mayhem, with at least one protester wounded by birdshot.
Police fired tear gas at protesters who had set up tents and
brick fortifications outside the compound. The protesters responded with
"I am a Muslim, not a terrorist," they chanted.
The interior ministry accused protesters of firing birdshot,
wounding a conscript, and said police made 31 arrests.
Witnesses also reported clashes between residents in the Alf
Maskan area and Morsi loyalists after they tried to establish a protest site.
Morsi supporters had announced Friday evening marches to
several security facilities, including the Republican Guard headquarters where
more than 50 demonstrators were killed last month.
While large crowds turned out to one march at the military
intelligence headquarters, stopping short of the building and turning back
after a brief protest, attempts to march to the Republican Guards appeared to
have been called off.
Morsi's supporters have remained defiant in the face of
mounting threats from the interim government.
The interior ministry has urged people at protest sites in
Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares "to let reason and the national
interest prevail, and to quickly leave".
State-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported Friday that police
had a plan to disperse the sit-ins but were holding out for a peaceful
Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei called for a halt to
violence in an interview with the Washington Post.
"Once we do that, we immediately have to go into a
dialogue to ensure that the Brotherhood understand that Mr Morsi failed. But
that doesn't mean that the Brotherhood should be excluded in any way."
More than 250 people have been killed since Morsi's ouster.
His supporters have been angered by comments from US
Secretary of State John Kerry, who told Pakistani television that Egypt's
military was "restoring democracy" when it ousted him.
"Is it the job of the army to restore democracy?"
asked Muslim Brotherhood spokespersonGehad al-Haddad on Friday.
Morsi has been formally remanded in custody on suspicion of
offences committed when he broke out of prison during the 2011 revolt that
toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
Prosecutors have also referred three top Muslim Brotherhood
leaders, including supreme guide Mohamed Badie, for prosecution on allegations
of inciting the deaths of demonstrators.
Morsi was detained hours after the coup and is being held at
an undisclosed location.
His family has been unable to see him, but Ashton met Morsi
on Tuesday and said he was "well".