News / USA

US Supports Egyptian Reform Plans

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke by telephone with Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman Saturday, urging what the White House called a "transition to a democratic government."

In a statement released late Saturday, the White House said Biden asked about progress in beginning "credible, inclusive negotiations" to address the will of the Egyptian people.

The statement said Biden stressed the need for a concrete reform agenda, a clear timeline, and immediate steps to demonstrate that the government is committed to reform. He also expressed concern about raids on civilians and called for the immediate release of journalists, activists, and human rights advocates who have been detained without cause.

Earlier Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed support for a political transition in Egypt headed by the new vice president, while stressing that a peaceful transition may take time. Speaking at a security conference in Munich, she said "the principles are very clear," but the "operational details are very challenging."

Also Saturday the U.S. special envoy to Egypt, Frank Wisner, told the conference via videolink that President Hosni Mubarak must remain in office to make the transition work, calling the role of the president "critical." But the State Department later disassociated itself from the remark, saying Wisner was speaking as a private citizen, not as spokesman for the government.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou postponed his trip to Cairo planned for Sunday due to the Egyptian political crisis.  No alternate date has been set, but his office said the prime minister wished to visit soon.

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

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