President Obama has had two conversations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak since the present wave of unrest began, Obama said at a press conference this afternoon, and in each conversation he has urged Mubarak to embrace change. Notably, Obama did not say he had personally urged Mubarak to step aside.
Obama took questions from reporters this afternoon during an appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and when Egypt came up, the president categorized his conversations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over the past week.
"Each time I have emphasized that the future of Egypt will be in the hands of Egyptians," Obama said.
"In light of what's happened over the last two weeks, going back to the old ways is not going to work, suppression is not going to work, engaging in violence is not going to work, attempting to shut down information flows is not going to work," Obama said. "The only thing that will work is moving an orderly transition process that begins right now that engages all the participants, that leads to democratic practices, free and fair elections, representative government that is responsive to the grievances of the Egyptian people."
Obama said he urged Mubarak to consult with those around him.
"I believe that President Mubarak cares about his country. He is proud, but he is also a patriot," Obama said. "He needs to consult with those who are around him in his government, he needs to listen to what is being voiced by the Egyptian people, and make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly but that is meaningful and serious. ...
"Once the president himself announced that he was not going to be running again, and since his term is up relatively shortly, the key question he should be asking himself is how do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt is able to get through this transformation period, and my hope is that he will end up making the right decision."
Obama condemned attacks on journalists and human rights advocates, which have been widely reported in U.S. media as being perpetrated by pro-Mubarak gangs in Egypt.
The president maintained his administration's stance, which both he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have stuck by closely since last weekend, that the future of Egypt will be up to Egyptians, and that it isn't America's place to recommend who leads the country.