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Egyptian Media Reports Government Divided on How to Handle Morsi Protests

August 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to Egypt, where there were clashes again today, as the stalemate over protest camps continued.

Margaret Warner reports.

MARGARET WARNER: Tensions boiled over in the streets of Cairo again today, as fighting erupted between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. A few thousand Morsi supporters marched to the Interior Ministry, and before long, both sides were throwing rocks, as police fired tear gas to try to quell the fracas.

It came as the standoff continued over two massive sit-in protest camps of Morsi followers. They remained defiant after security forces failed to move against them as expected again today.

ALY SALAH, Morsi supporter (through interpreter): We will not leave the camp. We are here until we achieve our demands, freedom, legitimacy, and that Morsi be returned to power, or we die here.

MARGARET WARNER: The military-backed interim government vowed last week to use force if needed to clear the camps, but it has yet to follow through on the threat.

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The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported today that the national security council met late into the night, but was still divided on how to handle the protests. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spokesman said it is ready to take part in political talks mediated by Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s leading religious authority, but he insisted any such talks must be based on what he called the restoration of constitutional legitimacy, a clear reference to Morsi’s status as the country’s elected president.