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Egypt's national defense council calls for dialogue

Jan. 26, 2013 9:14 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 27, 2013 3:04 P.M.)
CAIRO (Reuters) -- Egypt's National Defense Council, headed by President Muhammad Mursi, on Saturday condemned street violence and called for national dialogue to resolve political differences, the information minister said after the council met.

The council, which includes the defense minister, who is a general in charge of the army, could also consider declaring a state of emergency or a curfew in areas of violence if needed, Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud said.

At least 39 people were killed in violence in Port Said on Saturday over a court ruling and across the nation during Friday's anti-Mursi protests.

The council called for "a broad national dialogue that would be attended by independent national characters" to discuss political differences and ensure a "fair and transparent" parliamentary election, the minister said in a televised statement.

Calls by the president and his government for national dialogue have been spurned in the past by the main liberal-minded opposition, who accuse Mursi and his allies of ignoring any opposing views.

The violence that first erupted on Thursday, the eve of the anniversary of a revolt that started on Jan. 25, 2011, has highlighted the deep divisions in Egypt and cast a shadow over a parliamentary poll which could start in April.
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