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White House Presses Egyptian Leaders For More Change

  • Kent Klein

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters about the situation in Egypt (file photo))

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters about the situation in Egypt (file photo))

U.S. officials say Egypt’s leaders are not making a minimum amount of reforms their people demand. The Obama administration continues to push President Hosni Mubarak’s government for greater change.

President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, told reporters Wednesday the demonstrations in the streets of Cairo will continue to grow until Egypt’s government makes adequate reforms.

"I think it is clear that what the government has thus far put forward has yet to meet a minimum threshold for the people of Egypt," said Gibbs. "That is why many of you reported that the crowds in yesterday’s [Tuesday] protests were bigger than even those on Friday."

Gibbs says the United States is calling on President Mubarak to begin an orderly transition immediately, and allow his people to have basic civil and political rights.

"Unless or until that process takes hold, I think you are going to see the continued pictures that all of us are watching out of Cairo and other cities throughout Egypt," he said.

Administration officials say they have been in contact with not only members of Mr. Mubarak’s government, but also leaders of Egypt’s civil society.

One of the more recent high-level contacts was a telephone call Tuesday between Vice President Joe Biden and his Egyptian counterpart, Omar Suleiman.

Vice President Suleiman’s efforts to talk with protesters about proposed reforms have broken down in recent days. He warned Tuesday that what he called a "coup" could take place unless demonstrators agree to negotiate.

Gibbs told reporters Wednesday the Egyptian people’s concerns cannot be met by violence, and that immediate and irreversible change is needed. He also said the situation will not be resolved if the government is not willing to change and the protesters are not willing to negotiate.

Since the demonstrations began about two weeks ago, Mr. Mubarak has said he will not seek re-election in September. Also, Vice President Suleiman announced that the president’s son, Gamal Mubarak, would not be a candidate for national office. And the leadership of the president’s National Democratic Party stepped down.

However, U.S. officials say Egypt’s leaders need to listen to the demonstrators in the streets and implement wider reforms.

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