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Egypt says uncovers Brotherhood plot, day before Mursi sentencing

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt said on Monday it had thwarted a Muslim Brotherhood plot against the state, a day before a court is expected to give a final ruling on a death sentence recommendation against Mohamed Mursi, Egypt's former Islamist president.

Mursi was removed by then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi nearly two years ago following mass protests against his rule. Last month an Egyptian court sought the death penalty for Mursi and 106 supporters of his Muslim Brotherhood in connection with a mass jail break in 2011.

On Tuesday, the court will give a final ruling. The verdict can be appealed.

A statement read on state television said that security services had "tracked and thwarted plots by the Brotherhood terrorist organization to collect intelligence information to carry out hostile attacks against state institutions, especially the army, police, judges, media figures, in addition to political leaders and public figures on orders from leaders inside and outside to create a terrorist cell".

The statement said the Brotherhood was gathering intelligence about state institutions and sending it abroad to foreign parties. It did not name those agencies.

The plot aimed to spread false information "to shake trust in state institutions", the statement added.

The statement said Brotherhood leaders had been giving this cell orders since 2012 during Mursi's reign.

It said security services had carried out raids and confiscated weapons and that a large number of arrests had been made. It did not say when those measures took place.

Security forces have killed about 1,000 Brotherhood supporters on the streets and jailed thousands of others, according to rights groups.

The Brotherhood denies links to Sinai-based insurgents who have killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers, but the government makes no distinction between the two groups.

Sisi, president since last June, says the Brotherhood poses a grave threat to national security. The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism.

(Reporting By Ali Abdelatti; Writing By Shadi Bushra; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Dan Grebler)

Intensive schedule for Sisi during Germany visit

President Abdul Fattah El Sisi will start a visit to Germany early in June.

During his visit, President Sisi will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

Merkel stressed in a statement her welcome of the visit and affirmed her keenness on opening channels of dialogue with Egypt. She underlined the importance of the political and strategic role played by Egypt in the region.

For his part, the German foreign minister stressed that Egypt is one of Germany's key partners.

On Friday, the spokeswoman for Germany's Foreign Ministry said that "Egypt is an effective player, and we would like to maintain dialogue with it."

As for the visit's itinerary, spokesman for the German presidency said that President Sisi will arrive in Berlin on Tuesday and will start his meetings with the German president in Bellevue Palace after an official reception ceremony.

The president then will hold bilateral talks with the German Chancellor after which they will hold a joint press conference.

The Egyptian president will also attend the closing session of the Egyptian-German Economic Forum that will be attended by almost 250 businessmen in a bid to give an impetus to economic and investment cooperation.

A number of economic contracts between the two countries will be signed.

The Supreme Leader Draws a Supremely Hard Line

Is it possible that President Obama would sign off on a nuclear agreement with Iran that did not provide for inspection of Iran’s military sites? We know we’re in trouble when it’s the French Foreign Minister who has allegedly insisted on this point, but we already knew that. The Hill reports:

The latest wrinkle arose as talks resumed in Vienna, between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who has taken a tough stance on the talks.

Fabius said on Wednesday that Paris would not support a deal that does not allow nuclear inspectors inside Iran’s military sites.

The remark came in response to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments on May 20 that Iran would not “any inspections of military sites by foreigners” or interviews with Iran’s nuclear scientists.

Zarif responded to Fabius on Thursday, warning that reaching a final nuclear deal “within a reasonable period of time” would be hard if the other side stuck to “excessive demands.”

The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader has drawn a supremely hard line on this point. Indeed, for good measure, he reiterated it yesterday (video below). Quotable quote posted by the Supreme Leader here: “They are saying new things in the nuclear negotiations. For example, they speak about visiting and examining our centers. As we said before, we will not allow any military center to be examined by foreigners. They say that they should interview our scientists. In other words, they want to interrogate them. We do not allow our nuclear scientists and scientists in any sensitive and important area to endure the slightest insult. I do not allow foreigners to speak to our scientists and the outstanding and dear children of the people of Iran who have helped this vast science reach the current point. No wise person and government in the world gives such permission. They hide their scientists and they do not even let their names be disclosed.”
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