British PM: Egypt's gov't must accelerate political reforms

Ashton: EU message to Mubarak - show restraint, listen to people; White House "deeply concerned" over attacks on media and peaceful protesters.

Cameron new PM (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Cameron new PM
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said Egyptian authorities must accelerate their political reforms, suggesting that violent scenes being witnessed in central Cairo showed that the government was not moving fast enough to meet protesters' demands.
Cameron also warned the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that "if it turns out that the regime in any way has been sponsoring or tolerating this violence, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable."
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Cameron and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting London on Wednesday, both condemned the violence breaking out in Cairo as "unacceptable."
Cameron said the clashes "underline the need for political reform, and frankly for that political reform to be accelerated and happen quickly."Following comments from several EU countries and the US in regards to the future of the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry responded by rebuffing foreign intervention into their internal affairs.
EU foreign policy chief also commented on events in Egypt, telling Al-Jazeera in an interview that it is very important that restraint is shown by Egyptian security forces and that people don't move to violence.
When asked what the EU's message is to Mubarak, Ashton said first, the government should show restraint and try to calm the situation in Egypt.
Second, Mubarak should show the people that he has heard their calls. He should show them his plan and a time table, "and then we can all work on the transition process to show that we are supporting Egypt," Ashton said.
Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in EgyptClick here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt
The EU foreign policy chief added that "The people are making their views well-known. The job of the government in any country is to listen to their people. If the people are saying they want change, he [Mubarak] has to listen to that."
Also Wednesday, the White House said the United States deplores and condemns the violence in Egypt.
In a statement, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the US is "deeply concerned" about attacks on the media and peaceful demonstrators. Gibbs said the US is reiterating its previous calls for restraint by all parties.
Earlier, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry rejected international calls for an immediate transition of power.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the convulsive change sweeping over Egypt and other parts of the Mideast show how American policymakers are "all in uncharted territory."
Speaking to a gathering of US diplomats at the State Department, Clinton said the fast-moving developments require US officials "to be more nimble and innovative and more accountable than ever before."
She didn't directly address the uprising in Egypt, but said events in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and elsewhere "show just how critical it is to have top level leadership on the ground and how that ground can shift under your feet."
Clinton said officials "face an increasingly complex, no easy answers, diplomatic and development environment."
President Barack Obama said he had told Mubarak the transition must begin at once and must include opposition parties. On Tuesday, the 82-year-old Mubarak rejected protesters' demands that he step down immediately, ending nearly 30 years in office, but said he would not seek re-election in the fall.
In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy also called for a political transition to start "without delay."
He said in a statement that a transition is necessary "to respond to the desire for change and renewal forcefully expressed by the population."
He also added "It is on all the Egyptian authorities to do everything possible so that the decisive process will pass without violence."
Sarkozy, too, has been criticized for failing to strongly back the Egyptian protesters and for appearing to support the regime of former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled by mass protests last month.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called Mubarak's announcement that he would not run for a new term "a step that clears the way for a new political beginning."
But that change should not be "delayed or postponed," Westerwelle warned, speaking in Berlin.
He did not, however, call for Mubarak to resign, saying only: "Who leads Egypt in future will be decided in Egypt by the Egyptian people."