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Clinton: US to Wait-and-See on Brotherhood's Talks With Mubarak Government

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, in Germany, February 5, 2011.
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, in Germany, February 5, 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington will adopt a wait-and-see approach to the involvement of Egyptian Islamists in talks with Egypt's government on resolving political unrest in that nation.

In an interview with U.S. broadcaster National Public Radio broadcast Sunday, Clinton says the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to engage with the government suggests it is now involved in the type of dialogue that Washington has encouraged. She was speaking while on a visit to Germany.

Clinton says the United States has been "very clear" about what it expects from the talks, namely, an "orderly transition" of power from Egypt's long-running President Hosni Mubarak, leading to free and fair elections. She says that is what the Egyptian people want.

White House officials say U.S. President Barack Obama wants Mr. Mubarak to start such a transition "now." They say Mr. Obama delivered that message Saturday, during phone calls with British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

A Downing Street spokesman says Cameron and Obama agree that Egypt needs a "clear and credible roadmap" to political change "as soon as possible."

Separately, White House officials say Vice President Joe Biden reiterated Obama's position to Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman in a phone call Saturday.  Biden also asked Suleiman about Egypt's progress in beginning "inclusive negotiations" to address the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

The White House says Biden called on the Egyptian government to introduce a concrete reform agenda, a clear timeline, and immediate steps to demonstrate its commitment to reform.

The U.S. vice president also expressed concern about "raids on civil society," and appealed for an immediate release of journalists, activists and human rights advocates deemed by Washington to be "detained without cause."

Earlier Saturday, Secretary Clinton expressed support for a political transition in Egypt headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman, whom Mubarak appointed as his first-ever deputy last month.  Mubarak made the appointment in response to days of huge nationwide protests demanding he step down after nearly 30 years in power.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Clinton said it may take time for Egypt to complete a peaceful transition, and she warned that an absence of orderly change could allow extremists to derail the process.

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney praised Mubarak Saturday, saying the United States needs to remember that the Egyptian leader has been a "good friend and ally."

Speaking at an event in Santa Barbara, California, Cheney noted that Mubarak sided with the United States against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, launched by U.S.-led forces in response to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Cheney was U.S. defense secretary at the time.

Cheney says Mubarak granted overflight rights to U.S. warplanes and contributed troops to the war effort. But, the former vice president acknowledged that the Egyptian people will determine Mubarak's future.


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