The political affairs chief of the United Nations is in Cairo for talks aimed at ending the deadly political crisis that has polarized the country and left more than 1,000 people dead.
Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman arrived in the Egyptian capital Tuesday, on a three-day mission described by a spokesman as a "push to restore peace and forge reconciliation." He is expected to confer with government officials and leaders of the embattled Muslim Brotherhood.
Feltman's arrival came just hours after Egypt's interim military government detained Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie . The 70-year-old was taken into custody on suspicion of inciting the torture and killing protesters in June who had demanded the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
A court on Tuesday ordered Badie held for 15 days as prosecutors investigate the allegations.
Despite the ongoing crackdown on Islamists, VOA Cairo Correspondent Elizabeth Arrott says the Brotherhood is vowing not to back down.
"Amir Bassam, on the board of the Brotherhood's political wing, spoke to VOA by telephone from an undisclosed location in Greater Cairo. He said despite the many arrests, it's impossible to eliminate the Brotherhood as it represents what he called a "genuine, integral, working part of Egyptian society."
The Brotherhood has appointed 69-year-old Mohamed Ezzat as its temporary spiritual guide.
Badie's arrest comes just a day after militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula attacked and killed 25 police officers, and two days after 36 Muslim Brotherhood supporters died in prison. Officials said the prisoners suffocated when tear gas was used to control an escape.
Authorities say the official death toll since Morsi's July 3 ouster has topped 1,000, but the Brotherhood insists the toll is much higher. The toll includes an Egyptian journalist killed late Monday at a military checkpoint in the capital.
Related report by Elizabeth Arrott: