No meeting with visiting Muslim Brotherhood delegation in US
WASHINGTON - American diplomats will not meet with a visiting delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a terrorist organization by the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, US officials said Tuesday.
But State Department spokesman Jeffrey Rathke said America would still engage with the Brotherhood, whose members are visiting Washington on a private trip.
"The State Department is not planning a meeting with the visiting delegation," he said.
"We engage with representatives from across the political spectrum, and this is a group we've also met with in the recent past. But you know, we don't have any further reasoning than we simply aren't meeting with them this time."
A State Department official said "it is the prerogative of the (State) Department to prioritize its engagements and a meeting won't be helpful at this time."
Still, Rathke said the United States had "no change in policy" regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and would "remain in contact."
Rathke would not comment on media reports that Egypt had summoned US Ambassador Robert Beecroft to express displeasure over the Muslim Brotherhood visit to Washington for a private conference.
The Egyptian foreign ministry and the country's ambassador in Washington have also kept quiet about the visit.
Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi and then won an election, has pledged to eradicate the Brotherhood and his government has blacklisted the movement as a terrorist organization.
The United States and Egypt have had a difficult relationship since the fall of ex-president Hosni Mubarak at the start of 2011 and the ensuing political shifts.
Washington at the end of March unfroze its military assistance to Egypt -- worth about $1.3 billion annually -- though continued to denounce Cairo's rights violations and the brutal repression of Muslim Brotherhood members.
The military overthrew Morsi in July 2013 and he was sentenced to death last month.