MUNICH (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday the Obama administration supports the transition to a new government now moving forward in Egypt but that it must be up to the Egyptian people to decide if the reforms go far enough.
With mass protests now in their 13th day, Mrs. Clinton said the United States is encouraging talks between opposition leaders and Vice President Omar Suleiman aimed at ending the country’s political crisis.
But she withheld judgment on the decision by the Muslim Brotherhood to enter into discussions with the embattled government. The fundamentalist group said it would insist that President Hosni Mubarak, an authoritarian leader who’s been in power for nearly three decades, step aside immediately.
“The Egyptian people are looking for an orderly transition that can lead to free and fair elections,” she said. “That’s what the United States has consistently supported. We are putting a lot into making sure the dialogue process that has begun is meaningful and transparent and leads to concrete actions.”
The people of Egypt and the leaders of the various opposition groups would “ultimately determine if it is or is not meeting their needs,” she said.
The transition should be as inclusive and transparent as possible, Mrs. Clinton said.
While remaining noncommittal about the Brotherhood’s entry into the talks, she said “at least they are now involved in the dialogue.”
“We are going to wait and see how this develops,” she said.
The group has been outlawed since 1954, and the talks would be the first known discussions between the government and the Brotherhood in years.
Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged Mr. Mubarak to lay out a timetable for transition and new elections in a second major address to his people.
“He must step aside gracefully and begin the process of transition to a caretaker government,” Mr. Kerry said. “I believe that is happening right now,” but he said what’s needed is clarity in the process.
Leading democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei criticized the talks as “opaque” and “managed by the military.” Also speaking on NBC, he said he had not been invited to them, and he warned that Egyptians still fear “that the government will retrench and come back with a vengeance.”
“Some leaders listen better than other leaders, but all leaders have to recognize now that the failure to reform, the failure to open up their economies and political systems, is just not an option any longer,” she said.
Mrs. Clinton said the “forces that are at work, particularly because of the advances in communications technology, are not reversible.”
The United States understands that and wants to “play a constructive role in helping countries move in the direction of more openness and more democracy and participation and market access, the things that we stand for,” she said.
Mrs. Clinton also acknowledged that over the years the United States has had close relations with autocratic regimes that are not popular with their people and run counter to American ideas and ideals.
“There is no easy answer to how we pursue what’s in America’s interests because ultimately my job, the president’s job, is to protect the security, the interests of the United States,” she said.
“Do we do business with, do we have relations with, do we support governments over the past 50 years that we do not always see eye to eye with? Of course. That’s the world in which we live, but our messages are consistent,” she said.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
The young drop coverage to avoid higher premiums
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
We’re human: we don’t always think things through, so we accept many ideas that are, well, ideas that are wrong. We also look past certain truths without recognizing them.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
Viewing and reviewing the Los Angeles experimental and classic punk scene with a nod to Rodney's English Disco
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc