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02/08/11

Obama Says Egypt Is "Not Going Back"

By MacKenzie C. Babb, Staff Writer, America.gov


Obama in Cairo in 2009 (photo by Pete Souza)
"The Egyptian people want freedom," President Obama says.

Washington - President Obama says that after nearly two weeks of political unrest in Egypt, the country "is not going to go back to what it was."

"The Egyptian people want freedom. They want free and fair elections. They want a representative government. They want a responsive government," Obama said in a Fox News interview February 6.

On February 5 the president discussed Egypt by telephone with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A White House statement about the calls said Obama expressed concern about continued raids on Egyptian civil society and called for the release of all journalists, human rights advocates and activists detained without cause.

He also emphasized "the importance of an orderly, peaceful transition, beginning now, to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people," adding this should include "credible, inclusive negotiations between the government and the opposition," the statement said.

The leaders agreed to stay in close contact.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for political reform in Egypt to be an "inclusive process" during a special briefing February 6. She commended the transition so far for reaching out to "a lot of the opposition and civil society leaders."

She said this is "a very important moment in Egyptian history, and it holds great promise."

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a news briefing February 7 that the Egyptian people "need to test the seriousness of the government and others that they will participate in a peaceful, democratic process."

"There's a great opportunity here for the Egyptian people to have a greater say in who will lead their country in the future. They need to seize this opportunity. They need to join this transition process," he said.

Crowley added that "the sooner this can happen, the better."

Vice President Biden spoke by telephone with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman February 5. According to a White House statement about the call, Biden "stressed the need for a concrete reform agenda, a clear timeline and immediate steps that demonstrate to the public and the opposition that the Egyptian government is committed to reform."

(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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