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EU calls on Egypt to respect right to protest

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(BRUSSELS) - The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday called on Egypt to "fully respect and protect the rights" of its citizens to hold peaceful political demonstrations.

She also said she deplored deaths reported following the demonstrations in Egypt and voiced "concern" over "the high number of people injured and arrested, and the use of violence."

"I call on all parties to exercise restraint and on the Egyptian authorities to release all peaceful demonstrators who have been detained," the European Union's chief diplomat added in a statement.

Urging the government to listen "carefully" to voices calling for full respect of political, social and economic rights, Ashton said: "I call on the Egyptian authorities to fully respect and protect the rights of their citizens to manifest their political aspirations by means of peaceful demonstrations."

Freedom of expression and the right to assemble peacefully were fundamental rights of every human being, the statement said.

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters clashed with police on Thursday in the cities of Suez and Ismailiya on the third straight day of anti-government demonstrations.

So far, four demonstrators and two polices have been killed, and dozens of people wounded in the fighting that began on Tuesday.

At the same time, a security official said at least 1,000 people have been arrested around the country.

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