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Egypt's President Calls For Unity

An anti-Morsi protester who was injured during clashes on November 5 with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, stands near a barbed wire barricade in front of the presidential palace in Cairo.
Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi has proposed a "national dialogue" with his opponents to overcome the country's crisis.

In a national TV address, Morsi called for opposition leaders to meet at the Presidential Palace on December 8.

''I call for a full, productive dialogue with all figures and heads of parties, revolutionary youth and senior legal figures to meet this Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 12.30 at the Presidential Palace in order to reach an agreement that unites the nation, with which we can all exit the constraints of division and conflict and enter into the ease of agreement, if not full consensus," Morsi announced.

Morsi said a referendum on a new constitution planned for December 15 would go ahead as planned.

He explained the proposed meeting would focus on how to move Egypt forward after that referendum.

Egypt has seen daily protests since Morsi gave himself wide powers on November 22. Opponents are also angered by the proposed constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly.

Morsi repeated his special decree would be annulled after the referendum is held.

''This constitutional decree will end completely, as well as any remnants of it, on the announcement of the referendum, whether that be a yes or a no," Morsi said.

Morsi was defiant as well, accusing some in the opposition of serving remnants of Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime. Morsi said he would never tolerate anyone plotting to overthrow his "legitimate" government.

President Barack Obama later spoke by telephone with Morsi and welcomed his call to dialogue but said it must take place without preconditions.

Morsi's address came after tanks deployed in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, site of overnight clashes between Morsi opponents and supporters that left seven dead and hundreds wounded in some of the worst violence yet.

In his call to Morsi, Obama expressed "deep concern" about the deaths and injuries of protesters in Egypt.

Obama told Morsi that he and other political leaders in Egypt must make clear to their supporters that violence is unacceptable.

Tensions, meanwhile, remained high in Egypt on December 6 when protesters set ablaze the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that propelled Morsi to victory in a June election.

With reporting by Reuters
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