(photo credit: AP [file])
SANTA BARBARA, California — Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a good friend and US ally, and urged the administration of US President Barak Obama to move cautiously as turmoil continued to shake the nation's government.
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Cheney said the US should take measured steps in public, and suggested that too much pressure could backfire.
"There is a reason why a lot of diplomacy is conducted in secret. There are good reasons for there to be confidentiality in some of those communications. And I think President Mubarak needs to be treated as he deserved over the years, because he has been a good friend," Cheney said at an event commemorating the centennial of US President Ronald Reagan's birth.
Cheney noted it can be difficult for some foreign leaders to act on US advice "in a visible way" without appearing compromised in their own countries.
"The bottom line is, in the end, whatever comes next in Egypt is going to be determined by the people of Egypt," Cheney added.
Cheney, looking markedly thinner than during his days in Washington and sitting throughout his remarks, said Mubarak helped the US get military aircraft into the region in the 1991 Gulf War, and committed troops to fight alongside US forces in the liberation of Kuwait.
"He's been a good man, a good friend and ally to the United States," Cheney said. "We need to remember that."
Cheney's comments came a day after Obama pressed Mubarak to consider his legacy and exit office in a way that would give his country the best chance for peace and democracy.
Asked about a possible outcome in Egypt, Cheney said, "I don't know."
"There comes a time for everybody when it's time to hang it up and move
on," he said, but added, "That's a decision only the Egyptians can
Saturday's event was sponsored by the Young America's Foundation, which
was founded to promote conservative ideas on college campuses and
purchased Reagan's former ranch in 1998.
Sarah Palin addressed the group Friday.