London, Jan 31 (ANI): Three key European leaders have urged Egypt to conduct free and fair elections over the weekend, and have asked President Hosni Mubarak to use his 'modulated approach' to handle the current situation rather than demanding his resignation.
Expressing deep concern about the protests in Egypt, British Prime Minister David Cameron, France President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote in a joint statement, in which they said: "We recognize the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt."
The New York Times said the statement lacked coherence and a united response by the European Union as a whole, even though under the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, its reaction to major events was intended to be faster and united.
The statement was issued ahead of Monday's meeting of E.U. foreign ministers to decide what policies or strategies they could adopt to deal with the current situation in the Middle East.
The fact that Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East, a crucial ally of the United States, and had also signed a peace agreement with Israel three decades ago, has alarmed the EU to deal with the current situation in that country early.
In Israel itself, commentators are questioning the security implications for the region and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the paper said.
Merkel is expected to raise these issues during Monday's meeting in Israel.She is one of the first Western leaders to visit the region since the demonstrations in Egypt began on Wednesday demanding the resignation of Mubarak.
The visit is part of German-Israeli consultations aimed at improving political, trade and scientific ties.
Merkel will be accompanied by several members of her cabinet, including Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Economy Minister Rainer Bruderle. (ANI)