President Obama: “This Moment of Volatility Has to be Turned into a Moment of Promise”

Jan 28, 2011 6:59pm

Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

After speaking with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak this evening for approximately 30 minutes, President Obama came to the State Room of the White House at 6:33 pm ET tonight to urge the Egyptian government to respect and embrace human rights and political and economic reform.

“Going forward this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise,” the president said.

Mubarak had delivered a message just moments before pledging “new steps towards more democracy, more freedoms for citizens, new steps to reduce unemployment, raise the standard of living, develop services; new steps to stand by the side of the poor and people of low income”

President Obama said that in their conversation “I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise. Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.”

The president said the administration’s first concern is “preventing injury and loss of life.” He called upon Egyptian authorities “ to refrain from any violence” against peaceful protesters, arguing that Egyptians have the universal rights to assembly and speech, rights the United States “will stand up for everywhere.” The president also called upon the Egyptian government to “reverse the actions” taken that interfere with internet and cell phone communication.”

Protesters, the president added, also have a responsibility to advocate for their cause “peacefully.”

Mr. Obama acknowledged that the US “has a close partnership with Egypt and we’ve cooperated on many issues.” But, he said, “we’ve also been clear that there must be reform – political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.  In the absence of these reforms grievances have built up over time.”

- Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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