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Turkey PM Urges Egyptian Leader to Heed Calls for Change


Women shout anti-Mubarak slogans as they demonstrate in the main square in downtown Cairo, February 1, 2011.

Women shout anti-Mubarak slogans as they demonstrate in the main square in downtown Cairo, February 1, 2011.

Turkey's prime minister has urged embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to listen to the demands of his people, as they continue to protest and call for change.

In an address to the Turkish parliament, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Mr. Mubarak to hear the people's "humane demands."

The United Nations' human rights chief said Tuesday Mr. Mubarak's government has committed serious abuses, including widespread torture.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also called on the government to stop interfering with communications, and to ensure security forces avoid using excessive force.

On Monday, the United States dismissed Mr. Mubarak's move to name a new government, saying the situation calls for action and not appointments.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the U.S. is calling for "a change in the way the country works," but did not say Mr. Mubarak should step down.

Gibbs' comments came as Washington sent former ambassador to Cairo Frank Wisner to press Egyptian officials to make democratic reforms.

White House officials say the U.S. is pushing Mr. Mubarak to work to meet the demands of protesters by lifting emergency laws, allowing non-governmental organizations to operate and freeing political prisoners.

Gibbs said Washington wants "meaningful negotiations" among all groups in Egypt, and he repeated the Obama administration's call for free and fair elections.

The U.S. has long backed Mr. Mubarak as a friend to Israel and a bulwark against radical Islam. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday of the danger that an Iranian-style theocracy could arise from Egypt's political chaos.

Mr. Netanyahu, speaking after a meeting with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that although the Egyptian protests may not be motivated by religious extremism, an organized Islamist group could take over the country in a time of social upheaval.

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful opposition group, has so far taken a subordinate position to young, urban dissidents who have led the massive, anti-government protests.

A newly formed opposition coalition, which includes the Islamist movement, has asked a secular, pro-Western democrat, Mohamed ElBaradei, to form a national unity government.

Earlier Monday, the European Union's top diplomat urged Egypt's president to respond to the complaints of demonstrators and hold talks with the opposition.

Catherine Ashton said before a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels Monday that Mr. Mubarak should answer "the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people." She called for an immediate, "peaceful way forward" based on a dialogue with all parts of civil society.

Middle East envoy Tony Blair said the will of the people should be expressed in "proper elections" under an atmosphere of stability.

The foreign minister of nearby Cyprus, Markos Kyprianou, said he is confident that the Egyptian president will press ahead with reforms.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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