US to resume formal Muslim Brotherhood contacts

By REUTERS
June 30, 2011 06:55

 
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The United States has decided to resume formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a senior US official said on Wednesday, in a step that reflects the Islamist group's growing political weight but that is almost certain to upset Israel and its US backers.

"The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing," said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency."

The official sought to portray the shift as a subtle evolution rather than a dramatic change in Washington's stance toward the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society.

Under the previous policy, US diplomats were allowed to deal with Brotherhood members of parliament who had won seats as independents -- a diplomatic fiction that allowed them to keep lines of communication open.

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