Egypt says crackdown on protest sit-ins is inevitable


Egypt's interim government said on Wednesday that international efforts to end the country's political standoff have failed.

Diplomats from Western and Arab countries have been trying to resolve the dispute between the Muslim Brotherhood and the interim military-backed government but in a statement, interim President Adly Mansour's office said that period had "ended today."

"These efforts have not achieved the hoped for results," the statement added.

The presidency "holds the Muslim Brotherhood completely responsible for the failure of these efforts, and for consequent events and developments relating to violations of the law and endangering public safety."

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said, "The decision agreed on by all to clear the sit-ins is final and irreversible," reading a statement issued by the cabinet.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed el-Beltagy reiterated the protesters' determination to continue the sit-ins.

Late Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton released a joint statement:

"We remain concerned and troubled that government and opposition leaders have not yet found a way to break a dangerous stalemate and agree to implement tangible confidence building measures."

"Now is not the time to assess blame, but to take steps that can help initiate a dialogue and move the transition forward," said the statement.

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Envoys from the United States, the European Union, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been in talks with Cairo to try and diffuse the crisis.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and EU envoy Bernardino Leon traveled to Cairo this week to urge the interim government to release Islamist leaders from jail as a gesture to the Muslim Brotherhood or risk making "a huge mistake."

The statement also suggested the government may now move against sit-ins by the Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, a move that the international community fears could lead to further bloodshed.

Morsi supporters have staged daily demonstrations demanding that he be reinstated.

According to the Associated Press, more than 250 people have been killed in the uprising since the military ousted Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood on July 3.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.