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US official ‘underscores support for Egyptians’
July 15, 2013, 5:11 pm

[Getty Images]

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has met with interim President Adly Mansour, according to local media reports [Getty Images]

The US Embassy in Cairo reopened Monday after a two-week closure as a senior Washington official arrived in Egypt for talks with military leaders and civil society groups.

The embassy was closed for security reasons as protests in support of and against former President Mohamed Morsi centred in its vicinity, a short distance from Tahrir Square.

The reopening coincided with the arrival Sunday of Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, the first senior US official to visit Egypt since Morsi was forced out of power by the military following massive street protests.

According to the MENA news agency Burns met interim President Adly Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi in the capital on Monday.

A statement by the US State Department said Burns would “underscore US support for the Egyptian people, an end to all violence, and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government”.

As well as meeting officials and military figures, the deputy secretary of state is also scheduled to meet civil society groups and business leaders during his two-day visit.

But the Nour Party, Egypt’s second-largest Islamist group after the Muslim Brotherhood, has already stated it would not meet with Burns.

The US has called for the release of Mr Morsi from custody, but has not yet determined whether the removal was a coup, which would result in Washington cutting its $1.5 billion annual aid to the country.

In the meantime, the interim Egyptian government moved to quickly fill ministerial positions in the new cabinet.

Nabil Fahmy, a former ambassador to the US and Dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, was appointed the new foreign minister.

Mohamed El-Baradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was appointed vice-president for foreign affairs.

The cabinet, which is to be sworn in on Wednesday, also includes four women to head the ministries of health, culture, environment and information.

The government announced on Sunday that it hopes to “soon” launch a national reconciliation initiative.

Source: Agencies