CAIRO, Egypt: A top U.S. Democrat in Congress met with a leading Muslim Brotherhood member during a recent visit to Egypt, the Islamist group and American officials confirmed Saturday.
U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer met with the Brotherhood’s parliament leader, Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, twice on Thursday “” once at the parliament building and another time at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, said Brotherhood spokesman Hamdi Hassan.
U.S. Embassy spokesman John Berry would only confirm that Hoyer, a Democrat from the U.S. state of Maryland, met with el-Katatni at U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s home on Thursday as part of a reception that included other politicians and parliament members.
Berry stressed that Hoyer met with el-Katatni in his capacity as an independent member of Egypt’s parliament. He would not say what the two discussed.
Though officially banned since 1954, the Brotherhood is considered Egypt’s largest opposition group and President Hosni Mubarak’s most powerful rival. Its members, who run as independents, make up the largest opposition bloc in parliament, holding about one-fifth of its 454 seats.
Top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have previously refused to meet with the Brotherhood, which renounced violence in 1970s.