Ex-US envoy to Egypt sent to Cairo to assess Mubarak's intentions

Washington, Feb.1 (ANI): The Obama administration has sent former ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner to Cairo to meet with President Hosni Mubarak and other senior officials to gauge the latter's intentions amid the fast-moving events there.

State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley declined to say whether Wisner, who served as ambassador from 1986 to 1991, was carrying a message from President Obama.

"He knows some of the key players within the Egyptian government. The administration believed it would be "useful" for him to meet with Mr. Mubarak and bring his perspective, the New York Times quoted Crowley, as saying.

Wisner, 72, is a respected elder of the foreign policy establishment, but the decision to send him to Cairo, has raised questions about whether the administration is using him as an emissary to gently prod Mubarak to resign.

But one senior official said, "When you have old friends get together, it's a two-way conversation."

Speaking to reporters, Crowley said: "We've sent a very clear message to Egypt, publicly and privately. But obviously Ambassador Wisner will have the opportunity to reinforce what we've already said."

Wisner, who has also been an ambassador to Zambia, the Philippines and India, has experience in delicate diplomacy.

In 2006 and 2007, he served as a special envoy for President George W. Bush, negotiating the independence of Kosovo and its recognition as a sovereign state by other countries.

"He negotiated very skillfully between the Serbs and the Kosovars," said R. Nicholas Burns, a former under secretary of state for political affairs, who worked with him during that period.

"He is that rare person of high intellect and great operational capability. He is also a very persuasive person."

Although Wisner is ten years younger to Mubarak, friends said he was the right generation to speak candidly to the president about his options. (ANI)

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