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08/18/2013 01:10 pm ET

How American Hopes For A Deal In Egypt Were Undercut

CAIRO — For a moment, at least, American and European diplomats trying to defuse the volatile standoff in Egypt thought they had a breakthrough.

As thousands of Islamist supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, braced for a crackdown by the military-imposed government, a senior European diplomat, Bernardino León, told the Islamists of “indications” from the leadership that within hours it would free two imprisoned opposition leaders. In turn, the Islamists had agreed to reduce the size of two protest camps by about half.

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