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Obama Phones Mubarak, Urges Reforms


President Barack Obama discusses the situation in Egypt with Vice President Joe Biden and the national security team during the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, Jan. 28, 2011.

President Barack Obama discusses the situation in Egypt with Vice President Joe Biden and the national security team during the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, Jan. 28, 2011.

President Obama has called on Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to take concrete steps to move toward greater democracy and economic reform. He spoke after President Mubarak went on national television to announce he would implement reforms, but said demonstrations are part of a plot to de-stabilize Egypt.

In his statement delivered in the White House State Dining Room late on Friday, Mr. Obama first repeated his call on Egyptian authorities to refrain from violence, and urged protesters in the streets to express themselves peacefully.

He said the people of Egypt have universal rights to assembly, association and free speech, that the United States stands up for everywhere. Mr. Obama repeated his call for Egyptian authorities to restore access to the Internet and social networking web sites.

Saying this moment of volatility must be turned into a moment of promise, Mr. Obama described what he told President Mubarak in a phone call just after the Egyptian leader's televised speech. "When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech, and told him to give meaning to those words to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," he said.

President Obama said what is needed now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people, a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change leading to a future of greater freedom opportunity and justice.

Ultimately, said Mr. Obama, the future will be determined by the Egyptian people who he said want a government that is fair, just, and responsive, something he said the U.S. will help them achieve. "The U.S. always will be a partner in pursuit of that future and we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people, all quarters, to achieve it," he said.

The president also said governments around the world have an obligation to respond to their citizens. And he referred to the speech he delivered in Cairo, at the beginning of a new outreach to the Muslim world, shortly after his election as president. "I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve," he said.

President Obama said there will be difficult days ahead, but the U.S. will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people to work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

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