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July 09, 2013

US Encourages Muslim Brotherhood to Join Egyptian Political Transition

by Scott Stearns

The Obama administration says it is encouraging Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to take part in a political transition following the ouster of the country's first democratically-elected president - himself a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour fills out positions in the transitional authority, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the Obama administration is encouraged by plans for new legislative elections.

"We're encouraged that the interim government has laid out a plan for a path forward. And of course any process moving forward must be inclusive and take the consensus into account," said Psaki.

She says Washington is still reviewing events to determine whether the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi was a coup - an important legal distinction that would affect U.S. foreign aid to Egypt.

Morsi supporters are demanding his return to power, with the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party rejecting the interim timetable as an effort to take Egypt "back to zero."

Psaki says U.S. officials are reaching out to members of the Muslim Brotherhood to encourage them to take part in this transition.

"We have been in touch with members of the Muslim Brotherhood. We want them to be a part of the process moving forward. The process is going to take place over a long course of time, so obviously we believe that in cases where there were arbitrary arrests, they should be released," she said.

She would not say whether U.S. officials have directly asked Egyptian security forces to release members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Our message has been clear that we want to see transparency. We want to see respect for due process and for the rule of law," she said.

Psaki and White House Spokesman Jay Carney have both urged Egyptian security forces to use "maximum restraint" in dealing with Morsi supporters. But neither would directly condemn Monday's killing of more than 50 people near a Cairo military facility, saying there is an ongoing investigation into what happened there.

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