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Senior U.S. Official Visits Egypt

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is expected to meet with military and interim government officials.
A top U.S. State Department official is due to meet Egyptian leaders in Cairo.

The visit by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns marks the first visit by a senior U.S. official to Egypt since the military ousted democratically elected President Muhammad Morsi on July 3.

Burns is expected to meet with military officials and interim government leaders during his visit.

It was not clear if he will meet officials of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that backs Morsi and that has been protesting to demand his reinstatement. Morsi is being held by the military at an undisclosed location.

The Brotherhood has rejected joining a new interim administration and was expected to stage more protests on July 15.

The State Department said Burns will push for "an end to all violence and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government."

More than 90 people have been reported killed in violence since Morsi was ousted, including 53 Morsi supporters who were killed by soldiers in a clash at the Republican Guard compound in Cairo.

The Obama administration has refrained from describing the toppling of Morsi as a "coup." Such a designation would require Washington, under U.S. law, to halt more than $1 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military.

Crackdown On Brotherhood

Burns is arriving in Cairo as authorities continue to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt's public prosecutor has ordered the freezing of assets belonging to 14 top Islamists.

In a televised speech on July 14, Egyptian military chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi defended his decision to remove Morsi from office.

He accused Morsi of violating his popular mandate and of antagonizing state institutions by backing a constitutional referendum that granted Morsi sweeping powers last year. The powers were later rescinded in the face of opposition.

The military chief also rejected accusations that Morsi’s ouster was motivated by the toppled leader's links to Islamists.

The public prosecutor's office announced it has ordered the freezing of the assets of 14 Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including its head, Muhammad Badie.

Also included were Badie’s deputy, Khairat el-Shater, and the deputy head of the Brotherhood's political party, Essam el-Erian.

The move came after prosecutors on July 13 said they were examining criminal complaints against Morsi, including spying, inciting deadly violence, and ruining the economy.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s caretaker prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, has held more talks on forming an interim cabinet.

Muhammad ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was sworn in on July 14 as interim vice president for foreign affairs.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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