Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak (L) welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama during their meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo in this June 4, 2009 file photograph. The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Reuters Pictures 1 hour ago
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) swears in Omar Suleiman as vice president in Cairo, in this still image taken from video January 29, 2011. The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately, The New York Times reported on February 3, 2011. Under the proposal, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, the Times said, citing administration officials and Arab diplomats.
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak speaks to ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview at the Presidential Palace in Cairo February 3, 2011. Mubarak said on Thursday that if he stepped down now after days of massive street protests Egypt would fall into chaos and the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group would take control.
Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman speaks to ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour in an interview at the Presidential Palace in Cairo February 3, 2011.
Egypt’s Mubarak says he won’t quit early
CAIRO, Feb 4 (Reuters) – President Hosni Mubarak ruled out resigning immediately to end a violent confrontation over his 30-year-rule, arguing this would bring chaos to Egypt, but the New York Times said the Obama administration was in talks with Egyptian officials for him to quit now.
Speaking in an interview with ABC on Thursday, after bloodshed in Cairo that killed 10 people, the 82-year-old leader said he believed his country still needed him.
“If I resign today, there will be chaos,” he said. Asked to comment on calls for him to resign, he said: “I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country.”
The New York Times said on Friday the administration of President Barack Obama was discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately.
Under the proposal, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, the newspaper said, citing administration officials and Arab diplomats.
Facing an unprecedented challenge to his rule from Egyptians angered by political repression, Mubarak has promised to stand down in September, appointed Suleiman a former intelligence chief as vice-president, and offered talks on reforms.
But that has failed to satisfy protesters who are hoping to rally thousands of Egyptians on Friday for a fresh demonstration to try to force Mubarak to quit now.
With the confrontation turning increasingly violent — protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were attacked by Mubarak supporters on Wednesday — the United States has increased pressure on Mubarak to begin the transition of power now.
Protesters in Tahrir (Liberation) Square — which has become the hub of pro-democracy demonstrations — were hoping to be joined by thousands more for a big demonstration they are calling the “Friday of Departure”.
Organisers called on people to march from wherever they were towards the square, the state television building and the parliament building — all within around a mile of one another in the heart of the city.
The U.S. State Department said it expected confrontation in what would be the 11th day of protests.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington believed elements close to the government or Mubarak’s ruling party were responsible for the violence which erupted on Wednesday. The Interior Ministry has denied it ordered its agents or officers to attack anti-Mubarak protesters.Reuters
US Officials: US-Egypt discuss Mubarak quitting
Associated Press Matthew Lee And Ben Feller, Associated Press – 10 mins ago
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is in talks with top Egyptian officials about the possible immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the formation of an interim government that could prepare the country for free and fair elections later this year, U.S. officials said late Thursday.
Creation of a military-backed caretaker government in Egypt is one of several ideas being discussed as anti-Mubarak protests escalate in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, the officials said. Those protests are expected to grow in size and intensity on Friday and the administration fears they may erupt into more widespread violence unless the government takes tangible steps to address the protesters main demand that Mubarak leave office.
The officials stressed the United States isn’t seeking to impose a solution on Egypt but noted that the administration had made a judgment that Mubarak has to go soon if there is to be a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic talks, which are continuing. The talks about Mubarak’s immediate departure were first reported by The New York Times.
White House and State Department spokesmen would not discuss details of the discussions U.S. officials are having with the Egyptians. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Thursday, a day after a similar conversation between Suleiman and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Officials said neither Biden nor Clinton made a specific call for Mubarak to resign immediately but pressed for measures that would ease tensions on the streets and set the stage for democratic elections.
“The president has said that now is the time to begin a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations,” said White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor on Thursday night. “We have discussed with the Egyptians a variety of different ways to move that process forward, but all of those decisions must be made by the Egyptian people.”
An administration official said there is no single plan being discussed with the Egyptians.
Rather, the administration is pursuing different ideas with Egyptian figures on how to proceed quickly with a process that includes a broad range of voices and leads to free and fair elections — in essence, different ways to accomplish those goals.
Among those options is a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately — which the embattled president has refused to do — and for Mubarak to cede power to a transitional government run by Suleiman.
But the official rejected the notion that the White House was trying to impose that idea and said it was not at all clear it would happen. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The discussions come amid escalating violence between pro- and anti-Mubarak forces.
The United States on Thursday severely criticized what it called systematic attacks on journalists in Egypt and said they appeared to be an attempt to shut out reporting of even bigger anti-government demonstrations to come.
Clinton condemned “in the strongest terms” the pro-government mobs that beat, threatened and intimidated reporters in Cairo.
Attacks as well on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners and diplomats were “unacceptable under any circumstances,” she said.
Clinton pointed the finger at Mubarak’s government without explicitly blaming the 82-year-old president for the violence. She said, “It is especially in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to these universal values,”
Egypt’s government must hold accountable those responsible for the attacks and “must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists’ ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world,” she said.
Foreign photographers reported attacks by Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square, the scene of vicious battles between Mubarak supporters and protesters demanding he step down after nearly 30 years in power.
The Egyptian government has accused media outlets of being sympathetic to protesters who want Mubarak to quit now rather than complete his term as he has pledged.
Among the many detained were correspondents for The New York Times, Washington Post and Al-Jazeera. Human rights groups said many activists also were taken away after a raid by the military police on a legal center in Cairo.
The Obama administration warned that the arrests and intimidation of reporters may be aimed at stopping the spread of the anti-government message ahead of a potentially critical protests Friday, when many Egyptians are expected to take to the streets after prayer services.
“It could well be that this is in anticipation of events tomorrow,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “We are bracing for a significant increase in the number of demonstrators on the streets and the real prospect of a confrontation.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also offered a strong denunciation of reported “systematic targeting” of journalists. He said, “I think we need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are taking place right now in Egypt.”
On Capitol Hill, the Senate approved a non-binding resolution late Thursday urging Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government and begin a peaceful transition to a democratic society.
Amid heightened U.S. concern about rising violence in Egypt, President Barack Obama began his remarks at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast with pointed hopes for better days ahead: “We pray that the violence in Egypt will end and the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized.”
And the administration complained Mubarak’s government was failing to immediately start a process toward real democracy, continuing the U.S. pressure on its once strong ally to accept the call of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators over the past week for democratic change.
The administration’s call for an immediate transition from three decades of authoritarian rule in Egypt has coincided with American hopes that reforms in Jordan and Yemen could stave off similar revolt.
All three countries have experienced instability since protesters in Tunisia chased their leader from power last month.
Separately Thursday, a senior intelligence official said Obama was warned of instability in Egypt “at the end of last year.”
CIA official Stephanie O’Sullivan would provide no further detail during an open Senate confirmation hearing to be the deputy director of national intelligence.
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told The Associated Press that the events “should not have come upon us with the surprise that they did.”
She said the Internet’s use in organizing demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt should have provided “much more warning,” and that her committee would look into how intelligence agencies performed.
“Was someone looking at what was going on the Internet?” she asked.