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Egypt

Egypt calls for an end to pro-Morsi sit-ins ahead of Westerwelle visit

Egypt’s cabinet has declared pro-Morsi vigils a threat to national security and has instructed police to take "necessary measures" to end them. Meanwhile, Germany’s foreign minister is due to arrive in Egypt for talks.

The Egyptian government tasked police Wednesday to take “necessary measures” to end mass sit-ins by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

In a televised statement, an interim cabinet appointed by the military said the "terrorist acts" and traffic disruption stemming from the sit-ins "represent a threat to Egyptian national security."

"The cabinet decided to begin taking all necessary measures to address these dangers and put an end to them, commissioning the interior minister to do all that is necessary regarding this matter within the framework of the constitution and the law," it said.

The statement cited the Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in particular.

Minutes before the statement, Egyptian authorities said they had referred the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, and two other senior Brotherhood officials to a court on charges of inciting violence.

The army has stepped up its action against Morsi supporters since they began rallying for his reinstatement.

On Saturday, 72 people were killed in clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces near a Cairo sit-in. It was the single deadliest instance of violence since the military ousted Morsi on July 3.

Westerwelle to Egypt

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is set to arrive in Cairo later Wednesday, making him the first western foreign minister to visit Egypt since Morsi's ouster.

"These are very serious times for Egypt," Westerwelle said in an interview with the German dpa news agency.

"Egypt is a key country for the entire region and therefore also of great importance for Germany, because we are talking here about a neighboring region with which we are closely linked economically," he said.

Westerwelle is expected to hold talks with officials of interim President Adly Mansour's interim government as well as opposition officials.

However it is unclear whether Westerwelle will meet with Morsi, who is currently being held by the army at an undisclosed location.

In contact with Morsi

On Monday, the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton became the first official aside from Egypt's military or security services to meet with Morsi since his ouster.

She told reporters in Cairo that Morsi "has access to information, in terms of TV and newspapers, so we were able to talk about the situation, and we were able to talk about the need to move forward."

On Wednesday, an African Union delegation confirmed they met with Morsi in Cairo, but did not provide further details.

hc/ccp (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)