Western states to send only low-level officials to presidential inauguration of Egypt's Sisi

CAIRO (Reuters) - Cairo's most important Western allies plan to send low-level representatives to Mr Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's presidential inauguration, officials said, a diplomatic snub meant to convey ongoing concerns about the state of Egyptian democracy.

The government that Mr Sisi installed after he removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power last July has been accused of widespread human rights abuses against the Islamist movement as well as secular activists.

A United States official said Washington would send Mr Thomas Shannon, counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry, to the inauguration on Sunday.

On Wednesday, the United States said it looked forward to working with Mr Sisi but reiterated concerns about limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

The United States, which has counted on Egypt as a close Middle East ally for decades, suspended some aid after Mr Sisi toppled Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule.

A Western diplomatic source said European states would be represented by ambassadors. "It was a collective decision," said the source, adding that the move highlighted concerns over the political transition.

The European Union said in a statement on Thursday that it was concerned with the continued detention of political opponents, activists and journalists.

While Western countries have voiced concerns over alleged human rights abuses, they have not taken any strong measures to pressure Cairo.

Mursi's removal has created tense relations between Egypt and nearby states Turkey and Qatar. Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said the country would be represented by its charge d'affaires in Cairo.

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