EU to 'urgently review' relationship with Egypt in coming days

Presidents call on all sides to show restraint, prevent further escalation, say member states will adopt new measures.

Egypt protest 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt protest 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BRUSSELS - The European Union will review its relationship with Egypt in the coming days, the 28-member bloc said on Sunday.
In a statement, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso called on all sides in Egypt to show restraint and prevent further escalation of the violence.
To this effect, together with its member states, the EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt and adopt measures aimed at pursuing these goals," the statement said.
The crackdown has, however, drawn messages of support from wealthy Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia, which have long feared the spread of Brotherhood ideology to the Gulf monarchies.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood defiantly vowed to hold several marches in Cairo on Sunday afternoon, the AFP news agency reported.
The call to protest follows a tense stand-off with protesters in a Cairo mosque on Saturday, as the death toll from four days of violence surpassed 700.
A statement by the Anti-Coup Alliance said several marches would take place in Cairo on Sunday afternoon, continuing the daily campaign of protests in defiance of an intensifying crackdown.Meanwhile, Egypt's cabinet is set to discuss the escalating crisis.
Egypt's cabinet on Sunday is set to discuss the escalating crisis.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned attacks on churches, hospitals and other facilities, saying the authorities and politicians shared responsibility for ending the violence.
Clashes flared briefly on Saturday when supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi exchanged fire with security forces in a central Cairo mosque, where scores of Muslim Brotherhood protesters had sought refuge from confrontations with police the day before.
Police finally cleared the building and made a string of arrests, with crowds on the street cheering them on and harassing foreign reporters trying to cover the scene.
"We as Egyptians feel deep bitterness towards coverage of the events in Egypt," presidential political adviser Mostafa Hegazy said, accusing Western media of ignoring attacks on police and the destruction of churches blamed on Islamists.
After two pro-Morsi protest camps were crushed by police on Wednesday, the Brotherhood launched a "Day of Rage" on Friday, when at least 173 people were killed in clashes. Police have since arrested more than 1,000 Brotherhood "elements", the Interior Ministry said. The state news agency said 250 faced possible charges of murder, attempted murder or terrorism.
The Brotherhood has called for daily street protests this week, but there were no reports of trouble on Sunday morning.
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for EU foreign ministers to meet next week to discuss the nature of the bloc's ties with Cairo.
"The chancellor explained that in view of the latest developments, the German government would review its relations with Egypt," Merkel's office said in a statement after the two leaders spoke by phone.
"She agreed with the President that the EU should also undertake a comprehensive review of its relations with Egypt." Hollande also spoke with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Friday. The two men called for an end to violence in Egypt and a return to national dialogue and elections, a statement from Hollande's office read.
Both agreed that EU foreign ministers should come up with a coordinated reaction to the events, the statement said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to express his concern about the situation, Cameron's office said in a statement.
"They agreed on the need for the EU to send a strong and united message that the violence must end and that there should be transition to a genuine democracy, which would require compromise from all sides," the statement added.