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02/02/11

Obama Says Peaceful Transition in Egypt "Must Begin Now"

By Stephen Kaufman, Staff Writer, America.gov

President Obama said Egyptian President Mubarak recognizes that "the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place."

Protests-Egypt-2011-00
Photos- Protests in Egypt

Washington - President Obama says a peaceful, meaningful and orderly political transition in Egypt "must begin now" and must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices, including the government's political opposition.

In remarks at the White House February 1, Obama said he had spoken with President Hosni Mubarak shortly after the Egyptian leader announced that he would not seek a sixth term as president.

Egypt is scheduled to hold presidential elections in September. However, press reports have indicated that many of the protesters who have gathered throughout Egypt over the past eight days are insisting that the Egyptian leader immediately step down.

Obama said "it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt's leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that." But he said he told Mubarak that an orderly political transition in Egypt "must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now."

Mubarak recognizes that "the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place," Obama said.

"We've borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter in the history of a great country and a longtime partner of the United States," the president said.

Throughout the unrest, the United States has called on all sides to refrain from violence. Obama commended Egypt's military forces for showing restraint and urged them to continue efforts to ensure that there will be peaceful change.

The United States stands for the universal human rights values allowing free assembly, free speech and the right to access information, he said, and it will continue to stand up for democratic values in Egypt and elsewhere around the world.

Obama said the passion and the dignity of the Egyptian people have inspired Americans and others around the world, and that the United States hears their voices.

Addressing the Egyptian people, he said, "I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny, and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren," and he affirmed his own commitment to the partnership between the United States and Egypt.

He cited the "sense of community" among Egyptians and between the protesters and the military, as well as those who surrounded Egypt's renowned National Museum in Cairo to protect it from looters.

A new generation of Egyptians is protecting the country's national treasures, representing "a human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day," he said.

The president said the United States stands ready to "provide any assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests."

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)

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