|Egypt bloodshed on EU agenda
The European Union holds a first round of emergency talks today on the “extremely worrying'' bloodshed in Egypt amid warnings the bloc will “urgently review'' its ties with the country.
Ambassadors on the bloc's political and security committee were called away from their summer break for talks in Brussels after the death toll from five days of violence in Egypt climbed to almost 800, AFP reports.
Warning that further escalation could have “unpredictable consequences'' for Egypt and its neighbors, the presidents of the European Council and European Commission said on the eve of the talks that the 28-nation bloc was ready to review its relations with Cairo.
“Recent developments in Egypt, and more particularly the violence of the last days, are extremely worrying,'' Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement. “It is crucial that violence ends immediately.''
“The EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt.''
The bloc, the world's leading aid donor, has pledged nearly five billion euros in loans and grants for Egypt for 2012-2013, and said shortly after the military's July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi that aid would be “under constant review.’’
Despite talk in some European capitals of suspending aid or slapping sanctions on those responsible for the bloodshed, an EU diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity said today's gathering would be ``less of a decision-making meeting, more a question of looking at the next steps.''
One concrete outcome is expected to be a snap meeting within days of the EU's foreign ministers, who were not scheduled to meet until early September and have not met since July 22, when they urged Egypt's army to stand aside and allow a peaceful transition to civilian rule.
In their statement, Van Rompuy and Barroso urged an end to the violence, a resumption of political dialogue, and a return to democracy.