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Obama Discusses Egypt Crisis With National Security Aides

  • Kent Klein

President Barack Obama met with his top national security aides Saturday to discuss developments in Egypt.

President Obama met for slightly more than an hour with Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Tom Donilon and other security advisers for an update on the turmoil in Egypt.

White House officials say the president said once again that he opposes violence and calls for restraint, supports rights the U.S. considers universal, and supports concrete progress toward political reform in Egypt.

The Obama administration has had no official reaction to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s announcement that he would promote his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, to vice president.

Suleiman will be Egypt’s first vice president since Mr. Mubarak came to power almost 30 years ago.

Shortly before the announcement Saturday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on the social network Twitter, President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.

President Obama said Friday he delivered a similar message to Mr. Mubarak in a 30-minute telephone call. Mr. Obama said he urged the Egyptian leader to refrain from violence. "Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away," he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday the administration is considering whether to cut the more than $1.3 billion in aid the United States sends Egypt each year. "We will be reviewing our assistance posture, based on events that take place in the coming days. This will be solved by the Egyptian people, and there is a very important opportunity for the Egyptian government to address grievances that have been in place for a number of years," he said.

Egypt has been an important ally to the U.S. since making peace with Israel in 1978, and Washington has sent billions of dollars in military and civilian aid to Cairo.

Several days of demonstrations and riots throughout Egypt, protesting Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule and history of repression, have put the U.S. in a delicate situation.