Top cleric gathers rival political forces in crisis

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iol pic afr egypt riot police

REUTERS

Riot policemen prepare to release tear gas at protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clashes along Simon Bolivar Square, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo.

Cairo - Egypt's top cleric on Thursday brought together rival political factions and called for dialogue over the political crisis and deadly unrest gripping the country.

Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb chaired talks between liberal opposition heads, Islamists, revolutionary youth groups, church members and independents at the headquarters of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, an AFP reporter said.

Present at the talks were leaders of the opposition National Salvation Front including former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei and ex-Arab League chief Amr Mussa.

Saad al-Katatni, head of the Freedom and Justice Party of President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, was also attending, along with other Islamist parties such as Al-Wasat and representatives of Egypt's churches.

The meeting is the latest attempt for dialogue between Egypt's political factions.

A week of deadly unrest has left almost 60 people dead and the country deeply split between Morsi's Islamist allies and an opposition of leftists, liberals, Christians as well as religious Muslims.

On Wednesday, ElBaradei called for urgent talks, just two days after the opposition rejected an appeal for dialogue from Morsi. - AFP


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