Clinton says urgent need for dialogue in Egypt

BRUSSELS Wed Dec 5, 2012 9:27am EST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pauses during a news conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels December 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pauses during a news conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels December 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Egyptians on Wednesday to discuss their differences over a new constitution, saying there was an urgent need for dialogue.

"The upheaval we are seeing now once again in the streets of Cairo and other cities indicates that dialogue is urgently needed," Clinton told a news conference after a NATO meeting in Brussels.

She called for "respectful exchanges of views and concerns among Egyptians themselves about the constitutional process and the substance of the constitution" and said it was important that the courts were allowed to function.

Opposition groups have accused Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi of making a dictatorial power grab to push through a constitution drafted by an assembly dominated by his supporters.

In Cairo on Tuesday, police battled thousands of protesters angered by Mursi's drive to hold a referendum on the new constitution on December 15.

Clinton said Egyptians deserved a constitution that protected the rights of everyone, "men and women, Muslim and Christian, and ensures Egypt will uphold all of its international obligations."

She called for a constitutional process that was "open, transparent and fair and does not unduly favor one group over any other."

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Adrian Croft)

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