Egyptian Foreign Ministry tells EU, US stay out of affairs

EU, urges Mubarak to respond fast to requests; Clinton says critical time for US leadership; British prime minister says change must "start now."

Hillary Clinton face and flag 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Hillary Clinton face and flag 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
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.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry rejected international calls for an immediate transition of power.
U.S. 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 says 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 that is threatening to force President Hosni Mubarak out after 30 years in power. But Clinton 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."
The US State Department announced on Wednesday that it is concerned about actions against journalists in Egypt.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted: "We are concerned about detentions and attacks on news media in Egypt. The civil society that Egypt wants to build includes a free press."
EU leaders urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to respond quickly to pro-democracy protests but stopped short of calling for him to resign before elections scheduled for September.
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.
"We've been very clear that Mr. Mubarak has to respond to the will of the people and that the demonstrations are a manifestation of that will," European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
"The words we use are 'transition' and 'transformation' — those are words with a sense of urgency to them," she told journalists in Brussels.
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron said the transition in Egypt "needs to be rapid and credible, and it needs to start now."
"The more they can do with a timetable to convince people it is true, the more the country can settle down to a stable and more democratic future," Cameron said Wednesday.
The European Union has had close relations with Egypt as part of its partnerships with other Mediterranean nations and tens of thousands of EU citizens flock to Egyptian beaches in wintertime. In recent days, the EU has been criticized for being too timid in supporting pro-democracy demonstrations and for trailing behind the U.S. in distancing itself from Mubarak's regime.
Unlike the United States and a number of other countries, the EU has not called on its citizens to leave Egypt. But a number of European tour operators have started carrying out plans to evacuate their clients.
About 50,000 Europeans — mostly tourists — are believed to still be in Egypt.
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." Staff contributed to this report.