Obama calls on Mubarak, asks to halt crackdown on protestors

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 29 (PTI) US President Barack Obama todaycalled on his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to halt thecrackdown on protestors, saying Washington would continue tostand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work alongwith their government to ensure a better future.

Obama, who spoke to Mubarak for 30 minutes, asked theEgyptian authorities to refrain from any violence againstpeaceful protestors.

"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," Obama said in hisstatement to the press.

Obama spoke with Mubarak after the latter addressed thenation, in which he ordered the resignation of his entireCabinet.

The US President also called on the Egyptian governmentto restore services of Internet and cellphone, which wasearlier suspended following the protests.

"At the same time, those protesting in the streets have aresponsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence anddestruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek," hesaid in his remarks addressed to the protestors.

"Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to beturned into a moment of promise. The United States has a closepartnership with Egypt and we''ve cooperated on many issues,including working together to advance a more peaceful region.

But we''ve also been clear that there must be reform --political, social and economic reforms that meet aspirationsof the Egyptian people," he said.

Noting that grievances have built up over time in theabsence of these reforms, Obama said Mubarak pledged for abetter democracy and greater economic opportunity when headdressed the Egyptian people.

"I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him hehas a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to takeconcrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise,"Obama said.

Violence, he argued, would not address the grievances ofthe Egyptian people.

"And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them goaway. What''s needed right now are concrete steps that advancethe rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialoguebetween the government and its citizens, and a path ofpolitical change that leads to a future of greater freedom andgreater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people."(More) PTI LKJ

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