Clinton - Reuters - Jan. 11, 2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a news conference in Doha on Jan. 11, 2011. Photo by Reuters
Text size

The United States wants to see an orderly transition of power in Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday, amid anti-government protests that have been threatening the rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government," Clinton told the "Fox News Sunday" program.

"We also don't want to see some takeover that would lead not to democracy but to oppression and the end of the aspirations of the Egyptian people," she said.

Asked during an appearance on CNN whether or not the U.S. supported the besieged Mubarak, Clinton said: "We do not want to send any message about backing forward or backing back."

"What we’re trying to do is to help clear the air, so that those who remain in power, starting with President Mubarak...will begin a process of reaching out, of creating a dialogue that will bring in peaceful activists and representatives of civil society to plan a way forward that will meet the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people.‬"

Protests against Mubarak's rule have worried Israel, who signed a peace treaty with Egypt, its largest Arab ally, in 1979, and uncertainty over Egypt's future has raised fears about stability in the region.

Also speaking to CBS's Bob Schieffer on Sunday, Clinton reacted to the reports of F-16’s flying low over the demonstrators, saying that U.S. "reports up until now have been that the Egyptian army had taken up positions, that they were showing such restraint."

"And we strongly urge that that continue. We are very clearly asking both in public and private that the Egyptian authorities respond to that, that they start a process of national dialogue that will lead to a transition to such democracy," Clinton added.

The U.S. Secretary of State also refused to speculate on the possible fate of President Mubarak, saying that Washington was "focused on now is a transition that will meet the needs of the Egyptian people and that will truly establish democracy, not just for one election and then no more elections after that, or not for radicals, extremists, violent elements to take over."

"I’m not speculating about who goes or who stays. And I’m not prepared to comment on what kind of democratic process the Egyptian people can construct for themselves," Clinton said, adding that she wanted "to see people who are truly committed to democracy, not to imposing any ideology on Egyptians."

Speaking on Mubarak's appointment of Omar Clinton said that that move was "something that American Government representatives have been urging and requesting for 30 years."

"So yes, it’s something we have said is absolutely imperative. It finally has happened. There are some new people taking responsibility in government. We hope that they can contribute to the kind of democratic and economic reforms that the people of Egypt deserve," Clinton added.

Egypt envoy: Soldiers were sent to defend the protests

Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry also made a public reference to the persisting unrest in his country, telling journalist Christiane Amanpour on Sunday that the Egyptian military was "deployed in protection of the demonstrations and keeping order and peace on the streets of Cairo, and it continues to operate undertaking its responsibilities as many have seen."

"It was received with great affection by the people and the demonstrators and continues to play an important role," Shoukry added, saying that the army was "an institution that Egyptians hold immense pride and one that has always come to provide safety and security and a safety valve for the Egyptian society.

Speaking of the subject of rights in Egypt, Shoukry claimed that “Freedom of expression had been guaranteed."

"Egypt has been on a road of economic and political democratic reform for the last 20 years or more. And it has achieved great strides in that regard," the Egyptian envoy said, adding that the "process of reform is an ongoing one, and definitely the people on the streets have indicated a desire for speedier reforms."