Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today the Obama administration is trying to send a clear message to the Egyptian government as tens of thousands of demonstrators have flooded the streets of Cairo demanding change: "We want to see reforms."
Clinton and Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry spoke to "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour today in exclusive interviews about the crisis in Cairo.
Speaking with Amanpour, who is currently in Cairo, via satellite, Clinton said the Obama administration is closely watching the actions of the Egyptian military, and that there are no immediate plans to cut off aid to the country.
"We are monitoring Egypt's military. They are demonstrating restraint, trying to differentiate between peaceful protestors -- who we support -- and potential looters and other criminal elements who are a danger to the Egyptian people," Clinton said.
"There is no discussion of cutting off aid … We are trying to convey a message that is clear -- no violence, no provocation that results in violence, and that we want to see these reforms so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed," she added.
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On the topic of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's appointment of intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his first vice president, Clinton said that this has been on a list of reforms the administration wanted to see in Egypt for some time. She told Amanpour that it is the first of several concrete steps necessary for the country to achieve democratic reform.
Clinton went on to reiterate the administration's stance that democracy, human rights and economic reform will be in the best interest of the country's people.
"I'm hoping that the government will be able to maintain a peaceful relationship with peaceful protesters," she said. "We can see a national dialogue begin, where the government of Egypt must take concrete steps for democratic and economic reform. That is the best way to navigate through this."
Egyptian Ambassador Shoukry Addresses Reform Process
Shoukry, who was appointed ambassador of Egypt to the United States in September 2008, spoke with Amanpour from Washington about his government's strides towards individual freedom for all Egyptians and willingness to continue a dialogue with the people.
"Egypt is a resourceful country," he said. "Its major strength is its people and their ability to overcome adverse situations. The process of reform is an ongoing one, and the people in the streets have indicated a desire for speedier reforms, which I'm sure is the direction that Egypt will take within the institutions that are still in operation that are recognizant to the word that is coming from the streets."
In terms of what steps President Mubarak should take in order to appease Egypt's people, Shoukry told Amanpour that a national consensus will need to be arrived at in terms of the reform process.
"All of these things will be developed within the context of the conversations between the various political representatives, those in the media, and the other opinion makers in Egypt," Shoukry said. "It is a process that needs to be undertaken with the necessary speed and caution in terms of improving the social welfare of the population."
Throughout the interview, Shoukry consistently referred to the strength of the Egyptian people and their desire to involve themselves in the future of their country.
"People in Egypt have shown a great deal of solidarity and a great deal of desire to see their country develop and prosper, and I believe that every loyal Egyptian will undertake his responsibility and contribute towards the improvement of his homeland," Shoukry said.