Washington, Jan.29 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has put his embattled Egyptian counterpart leader, Hosni Mubarak, on notice that he should not use his soldiers and police in a bloody crackdown on opposition protesters.
Addressing the nation from the White House, Obama said that he had spoken with Mubarak and had told him "to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters" and to turn a "moment of volatility" into a "moment of promise."
Declaring that the protesters have universal rights, the New York Times quoted Obama, as saying that the "The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people."
Obama's brief remarks came as a blunt reply to Mubarak, who spoke to his own people just one hour before and mixed conciliation with defiance as he dismissed his government, but vowed to stay in office to stabilize Egypt.
The Obama administration has moved from tentative support to distancing itself from Mubarak, its staunchest Arab ally, saying it would review the 1.5 billion dollar in American aid and warning him that he must confront the grievances of his people.
Obama said that Mubarak's promise of expanding democracy and economic opportunity needed to be enforced with meaning and responsibility.
He called on Mubarak to open a dialogue with the demonstrators, though he did not go as far as to urge free and fair elections.
Illustrating the delicate balance that the administration faces with Egypt, Obama referred to the joint projects of the two countries. He also urged the demonstrators to "express themselves peacefully."
Egypt is the fourth-largest recipient of American foreign aid, after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, and just ahead of Iraq.
It is also a critical partner on issues like the Israel-Palestinian peace process and a bulwark against Islamic extremism in the Arab world. (ANI)