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“If you’re in this kind of process of upheaval, things just can’t go fast enough,” Merkel said. But, she added, it doesn’t make sense to hold elections very quickly “as the beginning of a process of democratization — you have to give people a chance to create structures.”

Merkel spoke alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron. Neither leader would say what should happen to Mubarak, whose immediate departure is a key demand of Egyptian protesters.

“I don’t think we in the West should be the ones to point fingers and say it’s this leader or that leader who must go now or start now,” Cameron said. However, “to those who say what we need is to stick to the regime (in the interest of) stability, there is no stability in Egypt today,” he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged leaders across the Middle East to embrace democratic reforms. She said change is a “strategic necessity” that will make Arab nations stronger and their people more prosperous and less susceptible to extremist ideologies.

“The status quo is simply not sustainable,” she said.