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US Officials Return to Middle East

US officials return to the region for another round of shuttle diplomacy. Secy of State John Kerry is expected in Israel Tuesday night.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/16/2013, 1:45 AM

Kerry and Netanyahu meet
Kerry and Netanyahu meet
Moshe Milner, GPO

US officials are returning to the Middle East for another round of shuttle diplomacy, with Secretary of State John Kerry expected in Israel Tuesday night and Deputy Secretary Bill Burns to visit Cairo.

Kerry is making a sixth attempt to restart the moribund final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, having said in his past visit that "some progress" was made.

A statement issued Sunday by the Obama White House indicated Monday that Burns, who is in Egypt for a two-day visit, is expected to meet with interim government officials as well as civil society and business leaders.

The U.S. is calling on the Egyptian military to avoid politically motivated arrests, the American leader said Monday in Cairo.

Nevertheless, Egypt’s public prosecutor proceeded Monday with orders to arrest seven senior Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders. The arrests came in connection with violence between Brotherhood supporters and opponents before and after the ouster of former Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi.

Among those detained were leading Brotherhood figures Mohamed el-Beltagi and Essam el-Erian, both involved in demonstrations on Monday, the Islamist organization told reporters. Both were also listed among those charged last week with inciting violence, but neither was arrested at the time.

This week’s charges included incitement to violence, thuggery and funding violent acts.

A statement issued by the Obama White House said Sunday, “In all these meetings, he will underscore U.S. support for the Egyptian people, an end to all violence and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government.

Burns is the first senior American official to visit Cairo since the overthrow of the Morsi government on July 3.