France calls for release of Egypt’s Morsi

France called for the release of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday as the European Union's foreign policy chief held two-hour talks with Morsi, who has been in custody since shortly after the July 3 coup.

France calls for release of Egypt's Morsi
France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Photo: cyclotron/flickr

France's foreign minister demanded on Tuesday that Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi be freed, and condemned the deadly unrest in Cairo.

"We condemn the violence… We call for dialogue and for the release of president Morsi," Laurent Fabius told reporters.

"The situation is very critical. We call for the rejection of violence and for the release of political prisoners including former president Morsi."

Egypt has been locked in an increasingly bloody political crisis since Morsi was ousted in a July 3 coup, amid violent clashes between his supporters and opponents.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held two hours of talks with Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi, in custody since shortly after the July 3 coup, her spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Ashton met Morsi "for two hours," her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP.

In Cairo to discuss the bloody political crisis gripping the Arab world's most populous state, Ashton headed off to meet Morsi during the night.

Sources told AFP that she had left Cairo in a military helicopter for the undisclosed location where Morsi is being held.

On her last visit on July 17, Ashton unsuccessfully requested to meet him and urged his release.

Fabius is due to hold talks with Ashton later in the day.

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France tells COP21 negotiators to speed up

France's top diplomat Laurent Fabius, presiding over 195-nation talks for a UN climate pact, urged negotiators Wednesday to pick up the pace so as to finish the job by December 11th.

France tells COP21 negotiators to speed up
Photo: AFP

“My message is clear: we must accelerate the process because there is still a lot of work to do,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the UN conference in Paris' northern outskirts.

“Options for compromise need to be found as quickly as possible,” he added.

“Heads of state and government on Monday gave us an unambiguous mandate, and we must succeed.”

Since a high-profile opening by more than 150 world leaders on Monday, bureaucrats have been poring over a draft of the first pact to propose a global roster of carbon-curbing undertakings.

The goal is to limit warming to 2C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

The marathon conference is scheduled to close at 6 pm (1700 GMT) on December 11th – but the process is notorious for textual bickering and running over schedule.

Bureaucrats have been given an interim deadline of midday (1100 GMT) this Saturday to produce a blueprint, which will then be given to environment ministers to make the political decisions required for a deal.

A European negotiator earlier told AFP there was “growing frustration” with what he described as a “very slow” pace of work.

And Greenpeace campaigner Li Shuo, who has observer status in the talks, described the process as “quite messy”, with negotiations in “contact groups, spinoff groups, informal informals, huddles”.

“At some point, we definitely need to switch gear,” he said.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres cautioned against despair.

“The text of the agreement will go through ups and downs, there will be many commas inserted and commas removed because that is the nature of this. It is a legally binding text and needs to be reviewed very, very carefully,” she said.