U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday unconfirmed reports of an assassination attempt on Egypt's vice-president put into "sharp relief" the challenges of the standoff between government and protesters.
The U.S. Fox television news network reported late on Friday that there had been an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Vice President Omar Suleiman, with two bodyguards reported killed. A senior Egyptian security source denied the report.
"That news report brings into sharp relief the challenges we are facing as we navigate through this period," Clinton told a security conference in Munich after being told of the report.
But a U.S. official said the secretary of state's comments did not constitute a confirmation of the news report, which was denied by the senior Egyptian security source.
Suleiman, the former Egyptian intelligence chief, was appointed by President Hosni Mubarak a week ago, the first time the 82-year-old leader has named a deputy in three decades in power. Suleiman has promised to hold to account those responsible for the violence against protesters in Cairo, widely blamed on security forces in plain clothes and Mubarak loyalists.
Clinton, in one of the clearest U.S. statements yet on how Egypt should proceed amid mass demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak, said an attempt to find a transitional mechanism could be the best hope for the future.
"It is important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government actually headed by now-Vice President Omar Suleiman," Clinton told an audience at a security conference in Munich.
Clinton said that while the Washington firmly supported calls by Egyptian protesters for greater democracy, it would take time to establish the groundwork "that will permit an orderly establishment of the elections that are scheduled for September."
"The principles are very clear, the operational details are very challenging," Clinton said.
"President Mubarak has announced he will not stand for re-election, nor will his son," Clinton said, noting that the government had also pledged constitutional reforms and allowing greater political participation.
"That is what the government has said it is trying to do, that is what we are supporting, and hope to see it move as orderly but as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances."
Egypt has dominated Clinton's schedule at the Munich conference, where she used her speech to warn that the broader Middle East faces a "perfect storm" of unrest unless regional leaders get cracking on political reforms.
Clinton said all sectors of Egyptian society would have to be patient and contribute. "This is such a difficult set of decisions for any government to carry out and do so in a way that results in the outcome we're all seeking," she said.
"Our hope that this proceeds peacefully...and that there be an election with international observers and with sufficient preparation and performance that it will be viewed as free, fair and credible when it is finally held," she said.
ReutersLast Mod: 05 Şubat 2011, 15:35