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October 5, 2011 1:11 pm

U.S. Diplomat Confirms Direct Talks with Egypt’s Brotherhood

avatar by Steven Emerson

Mohamed el-Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood member running for the lower house of parliament. Photo: Al Jazeera English.

American officials have met with members of Egypt’s long-banned Muslim Brotherhood, an unnamed senior U.S. diplomat told Reuters.

The official did not specify when the meetings took place, but noted that there has been no formal distinction between members of the Brotherhood or its affiliated political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), whose formation was first announced in February.

“We have had direct contacts with senior officials of the Freedom and Justice party,” the American diplomat said, adding that the administration does not “have a policy that makes a distinction [between the Brotherhood and the FJP], that one or the other is off limits.”

The latest talks involved “high-level” party members, the official said, in contrast to earlier contacts, which were mostly with Brotherhood-affiliated parliamentarians running as “independents.”

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It’s pointless to try making distinction between the Brotherhood and its political arm: the senior leaders of the FJP were plucked directly from the Brotherhood’s Executive Bureau after the FJP was formed, and the Brotherhood has shown time and time again that one cannot be a Muslim Brother without supporting the FJP and its political line.

This weekend’s acknowledgment runs counter to earlier claims by senior Brotherhood leaders that the group had not met with American officials after the widely publicized June announcement that the United States would resume a policy of limited contacts with the Islamist group.

“It was not immediately clear why the two sides gave different accounts,” Reuters noted.

“From our perspective it is important to be in touch with all of the emerging political forces here in Egypt, across the board, that are peaceful and committed to non-violence,” the diplomat answered when asked why the United States is engaging with the long-banned party that has already begun to set its sights on an Islamic state in Egypt.

Peaceful and committed to non-violence? They must be talking about a different group.

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