WASHINGTON — The White House warned Egypt's leaders to expect unrelenting protests unless they start to show real reforms and a transition to a freer society, dismissing governmental concessions so far as not having met even the minimum threshold of what people want.
Obama administration officials were also increasingly blunt in describing the limits of their leverage, reasserting that the United States is not seeking to dictate events in Egypt — and that it cannot.
"We're not going to be able to force them do anything," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday.
Still, Gibbs and other officials called on Egypt's leaders to end the harassment of activists, to broaden the makeup of their negotiations with opposition leaders, to lift a repressive emergency law, and to take up a series of other moves the Obama government has requested for days.
Obama reinforced that message in a phone call Wednesday with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in which the president emphasized the need for "immediate steps toward an orderly transition that is meaningful, lasting, legitimate and responsive," the White House said.