Egypt opposition, religious leaders meet army chief: sources

CAIRO Wed Jul 3, 2013 8:23am EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei met army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday hours before an army deadline for Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to yield to mass protests or quit, two political sources said.

The heads of state Islamic institute, Al-Azhar, and the Egyptian Coptic Church also joined the meeting, a government source said. Political sources said two members of the "Tamarud - Rebel!" youth group that is leading the anti-Mursi protests also attended, as did members of the hardline Muslim fundamentalist Nour Party.

Al-Azhar's Grand Sheikh, Ahmed al-Tayeb, endorsed the army's position, calling on political leaders to heed anti-government protesters. Pope Tawadros, spiritual leader of some 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million people, tweeted his blessing for the anti-Mursi revolt on Tuesday.

ElBaradei was chosen to represent the opposition National Salvation Front coalition and youth groups leading anti-Mursi street protests to negotiate with the army on their behalf.

"In the meeting, ElBaradei will urge the armed forces to intervene to stop the bloodshed," one opposition source said.

A military source denied the meeting was taking place.

More than 20 people have died and hundreds have been injured in clashes between Mursi's supporters and opponents since the eruption of mass protests on June 30.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Asma Alsharif, writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Paul Taylor)

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