European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton met on Wednesday with representatives from Islamist and liberal parties to discuss contraband funds in Europe and parties’ commitment to the roadmap.
This included two separates meetings with Al-Nour Party and the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup, and an evening meeting with Ahmed Saeed, head of Free Egyptians party.
On Thursday morning, Ashton met with the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II in the Cathedral Headquarters in Al-Abbasiya.
Ashton is expected to meet interim President Adly Mansour, Prime Minister Hazem Al-Beblawi and Defense Minister Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi on Thursday.
Amr Darrag, representative of the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy and Reject the Coup, told state-owned news agency MENA that their meeting with Ashton was only “an exchange of views”.
Darrag said the Alliance does not only represent the Muslim Brotherhood or Freedom and Justice Party, but Egyptians as a whole. “This problem is an Egyptian problem, as we stressed before,” he said. “We as Egyptians do not accept any foreign intervention to impose any political solution in any form.”
Al-Nour Party presidential council member Ashraf Thabet meanwhile said that the talks with Ashton were concerned with EU’s aid to Egypt and the destiny of contraband funds from Egypt within EU countries.
Ashton replied that there had been no decision to cut or suspend EU aid to Egypt, €5bn in the form of investments. Thabet said that Ashton expressed “positive indicators” regarding the contraband funds from Egypt during the administration of former president Hosni Mubarak.
ShehabWagih, spokesman of Free Egyptians Party, said that Ashton’s meeting with Saeed was as the head of his party, rather than as a member of National Salvation front (NSF). Wagih added that Ashton told Saeed that she did not come with an initiative, but in a visit to affirm bilateral relations between Egypt and Europe.
According to Wagih, Ashton affirmed the EU’s committment to helping Egypt, provided the latter shows it is committed to the transitional roadmap.
Ashton is set to provide a report on her visit to Egypt in the EU after the visit ends on Thursday.
EU Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernadino Leon visited Cairo two weeks ago and met with officials from several political parties and Constituent Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa, with whom Ashton met on Wednesday. Leon also met with Muslim Brotherhood members Amr Darrag and Mohamed Ali Bishr, who represent groups that oppose the ouster of former president Morsi.
During Ashton’s most recent visit in July, she met with ousted President Mohamed Morsi in an undisclosed location – the only foreign representative to do so.