News / Europe

White House: Only Egyptian People Can Determine Their Political Future

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs

As President Barack Obama and senior U.S. officials monitor the situation in Egypt, the president's spokesman has underscored what Mr. Obama says needs to happen there.  The president on Monday called in top Mideast experts to advise him on next steps.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was repeatedly pressed to explain what Washington hopes to see in the way of Egyptian government actions, and whether Mr. Obama believes that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the one to carry out reforms that Egyptians would accept as legitimate.

Gibbs referred to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks on Sunday, calling for an "orderly transition."   The White House said President Obama later told world leaders in telephone conversations that Egypt needs to transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the people.

The president's spokesman said only Egyptians can determine what the future will look like.

"That is not for our country or our government to determine," said Gibbs. "I don't think that people who seek greater freedom are looking for somebody else to pick what and how that change looks like."

Gibbs declined to answer a question as to whether President Obama would specifically call for President Mubarak to step down.   There must be meaningful negotiations, he added, with a broad cross-section of the Egyptian people, including opposition groups.  

Gibbs was also asked about the U.S. position on potential participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in any new governing structure, saying that the United States has had no contact with the group.

"We have as we have throughout the world, standards for that contact - that is adherence to the law, adherence to non-violence and a willingness to be part of a democratic process, but not use that democratic process to simply instill yourself into power," he said.

Slideshow of events in Egypt over the past two days

Asked about an Associated Press report quoting unidentified administration officials as saying the United States is pressing Mr. Mubarak to undertake key reforms, including credible presidential elections in September, Gibbs said that public and private messages to President Mubarak are the same.

On the plan for a million man march in Cairo on Tuesday to call for President Mubarak's resignation, Gibbs referred to contacts underway between the State Department and Egypt's foreign ministry, and between U.S. and Egyptian military officials, saying that the U.S. believes Egypt is clear about the need to avoid violence.

In addition to briefings from his national security team, President Obama has received advice from Mideast and other experts, some of whom came to the White House on Monday.

Vice President Joe Biden has been involved in contacts with foreign leaders.  On Monday, he telephoned Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to discuss the situation in Egypt.

It's not known to what extent Mr. Obama has spoken with former U.S. presidents such as Jimmy Carter, who presided over the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace accords in 1978.  

Mr. Carter has described events in Egypt as "the most profound situation in the Middle East" since he left office, saying he believes that President Mubarak "will have to leave."

The White House says the crisis in Egypt has not interrupted Mr. Obama's focus on domestic affairs and the economy.   The president is scheduled to travel to Pennsylvania on Wednesday as part of his efforts to promote new investments to spur economic growth.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.
Ashton's spokeswoman, Maya Kocijancic, told VOA the situation in Egypt will be a priority at Monday's meeting.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for an "orderly transition" to a more responsive government in Egypt.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs