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US discussing plan for Mubarak to quit

By Haris Afzal on Friday, February 4, 2011 with 0 comments

US discussing plan for Mubarak to quit
WASHINGTON: The United States is discussing a plan with Egyptian officials for President Hosni Mubarak to quit immediately and turn power over to a transitional government, a prominent US paper reported Thursday.

The report, which cited officials in President Barack Obama's administration and Arab diplomats, said the plan for an interim government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman, aimed at getting backing from the Egyptian military.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor did not confirm the report but said: "The president has said that now is the time to begin a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations.

"We have discussed with the Egyptians a variety of different ways to move that process forward, but all of those decisions must be made by the Egyptian people," Vietor added.

Separately, a senior US official said, "It's simply wrong to report that there's a single US plan that's being negotiated with the Egyptians."

The report and the responses from US officials provide the first glimpse of intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy taking place in Washington and Cairo.

There have been a string of reported calls between top US officials and the Egyptian government, including between Vice President Joe Biden and Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Thursday.

Obama will face his first questions from reporters on the Egypt crisis when he has a press availability Friday with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The paper report also said even though Mubarak has declined to quit, officials from both governments are holding talks about a plan in which Suleiman, backed by Egyptian armed forces, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.

The daily said the proposal calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to start a process to hold free and fair elections in September.

The newspaper said the outcome of the talks would depend on a number of factors including the widespread protests in Egypt and the dynamics within the Egyptian government.

It said it was not clear whether Suleiman or the military were willing to abandon Mubarak.

The report comes hours after the Obama administration publicly urged the Egyptian government to start talks "immediately" with the opposition on the handover of power.

Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden also stepped up the pressure on Suleiman, named President Hosni Mubarak's first-ever vice president last week, to follow through on promises of change.

Biden called Suleiman on Thursday, urging that "credible, inclusive negotiations begin immediately in order for Egypt to transition to a democratic government that addresses the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

The US Senate meanwhile Thursday unanimously approved a symbolic resolution urging Mubarak to create a caretaker government but stopping short of urging him to step down.

Category: News , World News

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