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Kerry encouraged by Egyptian events

By THOMAS FERRARO
February 6, 2011

Sen. John Kerry

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said on Sunday he’s encouraged by what he described as the rapid and dramatic series of events toward a new Egypt without President Hosni Mubarak.

“Tally up what has happened in the last 12 days,” said Kerry, who has echoed calls by President Barack Obama and others for Mubarak to promptly end his 30-year-old rule.

Kerry noted that Mubarak has promised not to run in the September election, he’s “engaged in a dialogue with the protesters (and) he’s now promising to remove the emergency law, which is a major, major opening of the door to the democratic process — allowing people to organize, speak, meet at a cafe — I think that is a beginning.”

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” as demonstrators in Egypt clamored for rapid change, Kerry said, “The most important thing now is to guarantee the process is in place where there are free and fair elections, parties can organize, people can campaign.”

Kerry suggested that Mubarak, who last week announced in a nationally broadcast speech said he would not be a candidate for another term, again address the Egyptian people.

Mubarak should “make it clear what the timetable is, precisely what the process is,” Kerry said.

“If that happens, this could actually turn significantly to the good and to the promise of a better outcome,” Kerry said.

Kerry dismissed comments by President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Egypt, Frank Wisner, that Mubarak should not immediately relinquish power and instead remain in office temporarily to help with the transition.

“Mr. Wisner’s comments just don’t reflect where the administration has been from day one, and that was not the message that he was asked to deliver or did deliver,” Kerry said.

Obama has been clear, Kerry said. “The president wants change, he wants it immediately, he wants it to be meaningful, and he wants it to be orderly.”

“Those are the terms that the president set out,” Kerry said.

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