Obama closely monitoring the situation in Egypt

Posted By: Pti
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Lalit K Jha

Washington/Munich, Feb 5 (PTI) US President Barack Obamaand his national security team were keeping a close watch onthe fast unfolding developments in Egypt, amidst reports thattop leadership of the country''s ruling party has resigned.

Obama was scheduled to receive a briefing on the situationfrom his senior national security staff later in the day onthe unfolding developments in Egypt.

Earlier today, Deputy National Security Advisor DenisMcDonough convened a Deputies Committee meeting on Egypt, aWhite House official said.

Yesterday, Obama had hoped that the Egyptian Presidentwould be able to make right decision.

"In order for Egypt to have a bright future, which Ibelieve it can have, the only thing that will work is moving aorderly transition process that begins right now that engagesall the parties, that leads to democratic practices, fair andfree elections, and representative government that isresponsive to the grievances of the Egyptian people," Obamasaid.

"Once the (Egyptian) President himself announced that hewas not going to be running again, and since his term is uprelatively shortly, the key question he should be askinghimself is, how do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt isable to get through this transformative period? My hope isthat he will end up making the right decision," Obama saidresponding to reporters question on Egypt at a joint WhiteHouse news conference with the Canadian Prime Minister,Stephen Harper.

Meanwhile, in Munich Secretary of State Hillary Clintonappeared to be supporting the efforts being made by EgyptianVice President Omar Suleiman to broker a compromise with theopposition groups and prepare ground for holding elections inSeptember.

She noted that US was not insisting on the immediatedeparture of Mubarak.

At the Munich Security Conference Clinton said thetransition should happen "as orderly but as expeditiously aspossible".

Clinton reiterated that the transition should be "atransparent, inclusive process that sets forth concrete stepsthat people who are engaged in it, and looking at it, canbelieve is moving toward an outcome that will commit anorderly establishment of elections scheduled for September".

At the same time she cautioned on the side effects ofsuch revolutionary moves in the Middle East.

"There are risks with the transition to democracy. (The)transition can backslide into just another authoritarianregime," she said.

"Revolutions have overthrown dictators in the name ofdemocracy, only to see the political process hijacked by newautocrats who use violence, deception, and rigged elections tostay in power, or to advance an agenda of extremism," Clintonsaid.

"Now, US and other Western powers appear to haveconcluded that the best path for Egypt � and certainly thesafest one, to avoid further chaos � is a gradual transition,managed by Suleiman, a pillar of Egypt''s existingestablishment, and backed by the military," The New York Timesreported.

"Whether such a process is acceptable to the crowds onthe streets of Cairo is far from clear: there is littleevidence that Suleiman, a former head of Egyptian intelligenceand trusted confidant of Mubarak, would be seen as anacceptable choice, even temporarily.

Opposition groups have refused to speak to him, sayingthat Mubarak must leave first," the Daily said.

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