AMANPOUR: Welcome back to a special edition of "This Week," "Crisis in Egypt," live here in Cairo. We're asking, can the government hold on? Can President Mubarak continue to govern? There are no government officials who we can speak to here in Cairo, so we turn now for an exclusive interview to Egypt's ambassador to the United States joining us in Washington, Ambassador Sameh Shoukry.
Thank you for being with us this morning.
SHOUKRY: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, I've been on the streets now for the sixth straight day. The people are out there. The military has been deployed. What is the government of Egypt expecting the military to do?
SHOUKRY: The military has been deployed in protection of the demonstrations and keeping order, peace and order 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.
It's an institution that the Egyptians hold in immense pride and one that has always come to provide safety and security and a safety valve for the Egyptian society.
AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador, though, how long will President Mubarak continue to tolerate this number of people in the streets?
SHOUKRY: From the outset, the freedom of expression had been guaranteed. Egypt has been on a road of economic, political, democratic reform for the last 20 years or more, and it has achieved great strides in that regard. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press had been evolving and advancing with very important strides. I believe, in the president's speech, he indicated that there would be a guarantee of the freedom and -- and ability of all Egyptians to express their points of view in a peaceful manner.
AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador, you say that there've been important reforms for many years now, but, you know, on the streets, people aren't hearing that, and they don't feel it. And they're telling us right now that, no matter what President Mubarak does, they want him out. Are you afraid for the future?
SHOUKRY: Well, certainly Egypt is going through a difficult time, but Egypt is a resourceful country, a country of a long history, and its major strength is in its people and their ability to overcome adverse situations.
The process of reform is an ongoing one. And definitely the people on the streets have indicated a desire for speedier reforms. That I'm sure is the direction that Egypt will take within the institutions that are still in operation that are cognizant to what is the word that is coming out from the streets.
AMANPOUR: When you look at what's happening on the streets, do you fear for the future here? SHOUKRY: I think it's a demonstration of people involving themselves more actively in their future and their -- the composition of their government and how they want to see the future for themselves and their children and the values that will cover the Egyptian society. This is a right that -- and a value that we all respect.
AMANPOUR: As I say, they are saying that what's happening is not enough. What more should the government do to bring more freedom, political pluralism? There is no meaningful political space here. What more can the government do, and should it?