Obama issues plea for restraint in Egypt

US Embassy in Cairo issues travel warning, urges Americans in Egypt to consider leaving country; Obama urges Mubarak to democratize his gov't.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 30, 2011 11:48
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

US President Barak Obama 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

The US Embassy in Cairo has told Americans in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible.

The Sunday morning travel warning said the Embassy will update Americans about departure assistance as soon as possible. It said US citizens should avoid travel to Egypt because of unrest, violence, and ongoing demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak's government.

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The warning was an escalation in the assessment of the situation by the US government, which previously had advised against non-essential travel to Egypt.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama issued a plea for restraint in Egypt after meeting with national security aides to assess the Cairo government's response to widespread protests threatening the stability of the country.

A White House statement said Obama "reiterated our focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint, supporting universal rights, and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform within Egypt."

But Obama offered no reaction to President Hosni Mubarak's decision earlier Saturday to name a vice president for the first time since coming to power nearly 30 years ago. Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, who's well respected by American officials. The president also fired his Cabinet.



Five days of protests have left at more than 70 dead.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt

Before Suleiman's appointment, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the US wanted to see Mubarak fulfill his pledges of reform as protests swept the country.

"The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat," Crowley said on his Twitter account. "President Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action."

Crowley said Egyptians "no longer accept the status quo. They are looking to their government for a meaningful process to foster real reform."

After speaking to Mubarak by telephone late Friday, Obama delivered a four minute statement calling on the Egyptian leader to take steps to democratize his government and refrain from using violence against his people.

As events unfolded Saturday, Obama and his advisers kept a low profile.

At the White House, top diplomatic, security and intelligence officials gathered for two hours for review the situation in Egypt. The meeting was led by national security adviser Tom Donilon and included White House chief of staff William Daley and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Margaret Scobey, the US ambassador to Egypt, participated by teleconference, the White House said.

Obama did not attend that session.


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