European Union monitors will supervise Egypt's upcoming presidential election under an agreement in principle reached Thursday between visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and foreign minister Nabil Fahmy.
A joint statement said the two sides agreed that an EU "election observation mission" would be deployed at the invitation of the Egyptian government.
The statement said Ashton welcomed the fact that the necessary agreements will be concluded shortly, "allowing for unhindered movement of observers throughout the country and access to all legal political interlocutors".
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It added that the "mission will conduct its work and make its assessments impartially and neutrally" and that "both sides look forward to a transparent and credible election".
Egypt's May 26-27 presidential election is likely to be swept by the retired army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July.
Sisi is expected to win the vote riding on a wave of popularity for having removed the divisive Morsi after mass protests demanding his resignation.
The only other main candidate is leftwing politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came third in the 2012 election that Morsi won.
The election will go into a second round on June 16-17 if there is no outright winner.