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White House Calls for Calm in Egypt

President Barack Obama talks about Egypt at the White House, February 1, 2011

President Barack Obama talks about Egypt at the White House, February 1, 2011

A spokesman for U.S. President Barack Obama is condemning Wednesday’s violence in Cairo as "outrageous and deplorable". The official says Mr. Obama made it clear to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that the time for a transition has come.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says President Obama wants the violence in the streets of Cairo to stop and a transition to begin.

"The president and this administration strongly condemn the outrageous and deplorable violence that has taken place in the streets of Cairo today," he said. "We have said that throughout this process. Obviously, if any of the violence is instigated by the government, it should stop immediately."

Related video report by Carolyn Presutti

Mr. Obama spoke with his Egyptian counterpart by telephone late Tuesday.

At Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Gibbs did not say the president has insisted that Mr. Mubarak step down now, but he said Mr. Obama did call for a change.

"The conversation that the president had with President Mubarak was direct, it was frank, it was candid," he said. "And without getting into exactly what was said, the message that the president delivered clearly to President Mubarak was that the time for change had come."

Gibbs repeated a statement he made last week, that the U.S. is reviewing its policy of sending $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt each year, and that the decision depends on the Egyptian government’s conduct.

He said Mr. Obama will maintain contact with President Mubarak. The White House spokesman called the events in Egypt "very fluid and dynamic"”

Earlier Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff William Daley said the situation in Egypt is beyond U.S. control. He said the United States hopes the result will be a strong, stable and secular Egyptian government.

Daley also told reporters the popular uprising could extend beyond Egypt’s borders, saying, "this stuff is contagious"”