Obama calls for restraint, reforms in Egypt

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 30 (PTI) Amid anti-regime riots in Egyptthat have claimed over 100 lives, US President Barack Obamahas sought restraint and favoured "concrete steps" aimed atadvancing political reforms in the Arab nation, as he held keytalks with his national security team to assess the situationthere.

"He reiterated our focus on opposing violence and callingfor restraint; supporting universal rights; and supportingconcrete steps that advance political reform within Egypt,"the White House said in a statement last evening after themeeting.

The US President was updated on the current situationin Egypt during the meeting with his national security aidesthat lasted for about an hour.

Vice President Joe Biden, National Security AdviserTom Donilon and his deputy Denis McDonough, Assistant to thePresident for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism JohnBrennan, the Vice President''s National Security Adviser TonyBlinken and Deputy National Security Adviser for StrategicCommunications Ben Rhodes were present at the meeting.

Senior Director for the Central Region Dennis Ross,Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa DanShapiro, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, outgoing White House PressSecretary Robert Gibbs and Senior Adviser David Plouffe alsoattended the meeting.

Earlier, Obama, who spoke to Mubarak for 30 minutes onFriday, had called on the Egyptian authorities to refrain fromany violence against peaceful protesters.

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal.

That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association,the right to free speech, and the ability to determine theirown destiny. These are human rights. And the United Stateswill stand up for them everywhere," he had said in astatement.

Obama had also urged the Egyptian government to restoreservices of Internet and cellphones, which were suspendedfollowing the protests.

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