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“Our intelligence collaboration with Oman Soliman is now probably the most successful element of the [U.S.-Egypt] relationship,” said a 2006 cable, which used an alternate spelling of his name.

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey described Gen. Suleiman as a “pragmatist with an extremely sharp analytical mind.”

However, in a conference call with reporters this week, senior Obama administration officials declined to endorse Gen. Suleiman.

“I think it’s important to be clear that the United States has never gone out and said Vice President Suleiman is the right person or passed any judgment on who should be in charge with respect to the government in terms of leading this transition process,” said Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and director of policy planning.

Obama administration officials have said they would like to see concrete and irreversible changes take place in Egypt.

“The test will be whether those changes are made or not. … Our question is not who’s leading it, but rather what the outcome is,” Mr. Sullivan said.