Middle East

Egypt turmoil: US envoy Burns meets interim leaders

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Media captionWilliam Burns: "Egyptians have second chance to put their post-revolutionary transition on a successful path"

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has held talks in Cairo with Egypt's caretaker leaders.

He met interim President Adly Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, as well as the head of the armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He said the US remained committed to an Egypt that was "stable, democratic, inclusive and tolerant".

Large numbers of protesters from both sides again gathered in Cairo, to coincide with Mr Burns' visit.

According to Reuters news agency, security forces fired tear gas after supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi scuffled with locals.

It comes a week after more than 50 pro-Morsi supporters were killed in clashes with troops outside the Republican Guard compound where the former president is believed to be being held.

Meanwhile, officials say suspected Islamist militants have attacked a bus carrying workers to a cement factory in north Sinai, killing three people. Fourteen others were wounded.

Road map

Mr Burns is the first top US official to visit Egypt since the army ousted President Morsi on 3 July.

He described the events of the last two weeks as a "second chance to realise the promise of the revolution" that ended the long-time authoritarian presidency of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

He said he had not come to Cairo with "US solutions nor to lecture anyone", stressing Washington understood that "only Egyptians can determine their future" and it would not be taking sides.

However, he told a news conference the "first priority must be to end violence and incitement and prevent retribution and begin a serious and substantive dialogue among all sides and all political parties".

Mr Burns said he planned to meet religious and civilian leaders, the heads of political parties and business figures during his two-day visit.

The US has called for the release of Mr Morsi, who remains in custody. His Muslim Brotherhood movement has demanded his reinstatement and insists the ousting was a coup.

Earlier Egypt's public prosecutor froze the assets of 14 Islamist leaders.

The Muslim Brotherhood head Mohammed Badie and his deputy Khairat al-Shater are reported to be among them.

The freeze comes as part of an investigation into the incitement of violence at protests.

Egypt's new interim government began swearing in its new cabinet on Sunday.

Among those filling vacant posts is pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei, 71, who takes on the role of vice-president for foreign relations.

The temporary leadership is tasked with ruling the country under an army-backed "road map" to restore civilian rule.

The Muslim Brotherhood has refused to join the new government headed by Mr Beblawi.

Egypt's ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour party has also said it will not join the interim government.

Spokesman Nader Bakkar told AFP: "We would participate only in an elected government."

The army says it intervened to remove Mr Morsi in response to protests by millions of Egyptians who accused him of becoming increasingly authoritarian and failing to tackle economic difficulties.