CAIRO - Egypt must release jailed Muslim Brotherhood leaders to help end political turmoil following the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, Qatar's foreign minister said as international mediation efforts to avert more bloodshed appeared to be fading.
Khaled al-Attiya, who has been trying to mediate an end to the crisis along with envoys from the United States, European Union and United Arab Emirates, returned home on Wednesday after several days in Cairo.
"My wish for the brothers in Egypt is to release the political prisoners as soon as possible because they are the key to unlocking this crisis," he told Qatar-based Al Jazeera television in an interview.
Qatar was the main financial backer of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government which ruled Egypt for a turbulent year until a July 3 military takeover backed by massive street demonstrations.
"Without a serious dialogue with all the parties, and most importantly with the political prisoners because they are the main element in this crisis, I believe things will be difficult," Attiya said.