August 19, 2013 / 12:26 PM / 6 years ago

EU foreign ministers to discuss Egypt on Wednesday

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss how to pressure Egypt’s army-backed rulers into finding a peaceful compromise with supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi.

Several EU governments have said in recent days that Europe should scale back its financial aid to Cairo, but some are reluctant to take steps that may have a deeper impact on the population than on the government, diplomats said.

At stake could be a 5 billion euro ($6.7 billion) package of grants and loans promised by the European Union, its member governments and international financial institutions last year, as well as various trade incentives.

Senior diplomats meeting in Brussels on Monday did not make specific proposals ahead of Wednesday’s talks, diplomats said.

The European Union’s ability to exert immediate economic pressure on Cairo is limited - much of its aid has been already stopped because of inadequate democratic reforms.

But the hope is that some further reduction in aid could help end a bloody crackdown by the government against Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, in which around 800 people have died, and prevent further bloodshed between the two sides.

Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Pravin Char

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