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Muslim Brotherhood agrees to talks with Egypt's Suleiman

Members of Islamist group "al-Gama'a al Islamiya", carry their party's flags and a picture of Hassan Al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood founder, during a demonstration against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Beirut, February 4, 2011.

Sharif Karim/Reuters/Sharif Karim/Reuters

The Muslim Brotherhood said on Saturday would be enter into dialogue with Vice President Omar Suleiman to pull Egypt out of its worst crisis in 30 years.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood, the most influential and organized opposition group, said the talks will take place at the cabinet at 11:00 a.m local time on Sunday to discuss the process of Mr. Mubarak leaving office, the right to protest in public places and guarantees for their safety.

The Brotherhood said it has the right to abandon the talks if they are going nowhere. The talks will focus on the future of the state and the transitional government.

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"We have decided to engage in a round of dialogue to ascertain the seriousness of officials towards the demands of the people and their willingness to respond to them," a Brotherhood spokesman told Reuters.

State television said Mr. Suleiman began meetings with prominent independent and mainstream opposition figures earlier on Saturday to go through the options, which centre on how to ensure free and fair presidential elections while sticking to the constitution.

The proposal being promoted by a group of Egyptians calling itself the "The Council of Wise Men" involves Mr. Suleiman assuming presidential powers for an interim period pending elections.

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But some opposition figures argue that would mean the next presidential election would be held under the same unfair conditions as in previous years. They want to first form a new parliament to change the constitution to pave the way for a presidential vote that is democratic.

A popular uprising has gripped Egypt since Jan. 25, with protesters camping out in central Cairo demanding the departure of Mr. Mubarak, even after the president on Tuesday announced he would not seek re-election in September.

The Brotherhood, whose political activity was banned by the government, champions Islamic sharia law in a country Mr. Mubarak has kept mainly secular with concessions to religion. Mubarak has played on Western and Arab liberal fears it would install an anti-Western Islamic state similar to Iran. Washington fears for the future of Egypt's pioneering peace treaty with Israel.

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