US diplomat: Arab leaders need to lead on reform

February 20, 2011 17:34

WASHINGTON — A top US diplomat says that Arab leaders facing mass protests need to lead the way rather than resist reform, and she denies that the Obama administration has abandoned its allies in the Middle East.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, says that the US has pressed allied governments not to stage violent crackdowns on peaceful protests and has urged them to embrace the demands for democracy. She says that the US has not pushed any leaders out or decided that they should stay.

Rice also says the US is "very concerned" about reports of security forces firing on peaceful protesters in Libya, where nearly a week of protests have left at least 200 dead.

Rice spoke Sunday on NBC television's "Meet The Press."

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