Frank Wisner, a retired U.S. ambassador to Egypt, was sent by Obama to deliver a message from the White House about how to best prepare for an "orderly transition," an administration source told ABC News earlier today.
Wisner, who served as ambassador to Egypt for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, is known to have a close relationship with Mubarak and top Egyptian government officials.
U.S. ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey spoke on the phone earlier today with Mohamed ElBaradei, the leading opposition figure in Egypt, marking the first time any U.S. official has spoken to the Nobel laureate since he returned to the country last Thursday. Immediately following Mubarak's announcement, ElBaradei was shown on Al Arabiya TV denounced the president for continuing his term.
It is significant to note that the official face of the United States talked to ElBaradei while the unofficial special message-deliverer is talking with Mubarak.
Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered in Cairo's central square for the largest day of protests yet, as the Egyptian army, deployed to enforce security and maintain security, avoided any confrontation with the joyous crowds.
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A delighted array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals came to Tahrir Square despite curfews, road closures and cancelled train and bus service. Many came prepared for the worst.
"I have a plastic sheet for the water cannon, a towel for my face. And I got my will written yesterday," one man told ABC News. "If I die, I die."
Jordan's King Abdullah sacked his government today amid protests that were directed mainly at prime minister Samir Rifai. The new Jordanian government will be tasked with bolstering democracy and "taking practical, swift, and tangible steps to launch a real political reform process, in line with the King's vision of comprehensive reform, modernization and development," according to Jordanian news agency, Petra.
After Egypt, Jordan is United States' second biggest ally in the region and only the second Arab country to recognize Israel.
The cabinet of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank said today it will hold municipal elections "as soon as possible." And in Gaza, which is run by the Islamic group Hamas, demonstrators sympathetic to the Egyptian cause were arrested, according to the Associated Press.
In Egypt, there were no signs of the uprising dissipating. Military helicopters circled overhead in Cairo's main square as the crowd chanted "Leave! Leave! Leave!" to Mubarak. The gathering, which was called by opposition groups on Monday, was mostly peaceful.
Today's show of opposition to Mubarak was billed as a million-person march. While it wasn't clear whether organizers had reached their goal or exceeded it -- Al Jazeera television estimated the crowd at 2 million -- that crowd was the largest to take to Cairo's streets since the protests began eight days ago.