Egypt's defense chief calls for dialogue

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CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's official news agency says the defense minister has invited politicians to hold talks to find a way out of the nation's worsening political crisis.

The MENA report Tuesday says Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi invited Egyptians from all fields, including politicians, artists and athletes, to take part in a dialogue Wednesday, three days ahead of a referendum on a disputed draft constitution.

The invitation is the second instance this week to signal the military's return to the political fray after handing over power in June to Islamist Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first civilian president.

Earlier this week, the military warned of disastrous consequences if the crisis over the country's draft constitution is not resolved.

The military sees itself as the guarantor of Egypt's interests and secular traditions.