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France, Germany call for immediate end to Egyptian clashes

Aug. 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The leaders of France and Germany on Friday called for an immediate end to the violence in Egypt and a return to dialogue between the opposing sides.

France's President Francois Hollande and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel also urged Egyptians to return to democracy as soon as possible, a statement released by Hollande's office said.

High-level European officials will hold a crisis meeting to consider actions to take in response to Egypt's bloody crackdown on protesters, a spokesman said.

The decision to hold the Monday meeting came the same day Britain, France and Germany summoned the Egyptian ambassadors in their respective countries, and EU member Denmark said it would cut off $5.3 million in annual job aid to Egypt.

"What happened [Wednesday] was unacceptable and we are afraid the development might continue in the wrong direction," Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach told The Wall Street Journal.

Friis Bach told Danish newspaper Berlingske Denmark would end its contributions to EU funding for Egypt.

He and other officials called on the EU to immediately re-examine its aid policy to Cairo, with some calling for the 28-nation bloc to suspend Egyptian aid.

The economic and political union has made billions of euros worth of loans and grants available to Egypt this year and last, but little has been spent, the Journal said.

EU officials said they had no aid-change plans to announce ahead of Monday's meeting. But they said the EU position was under review.

Britain, France and Germany summoned the Egyptian ambassadors in their respective countries to express their concern over the deadly violence.

British Foreign Office Political Director Simon Gass "condemned the use of force" and urged Egyptian authorities "to act with the greatest restraint," and Hollande called Wednesday's events "tragic" and said Egypt's military-led government must do everything possible "to avoid a civil war," the officials' offices said.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed Germany's position "in no uncertain terms" to the Egyptian ambassador, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ally of Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted as Egypt's president July 3, recalled Turkey's ambassador to Egypt and called for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss what he called a "massacre."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy responded Thursday night by recalling Egypt's ambassador to Turkey.

Turkey is an EU candidate.

The EU officials meeting Monday plan to "assess the situation unfolding in Egypt and coordinate member state and EU positions and possible actions," a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

Ashton and the EU have played an active role in recent months in efforts to calm Egypt's political crisis.

EU officials were told to prepare for a "possible" meeting of EU foreign ministers after Monday's session, the Journal said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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