Obama to Mubarak: Transition 'Must Begin Now' (Transcript)

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President Obama made his firmest public comments to date calling for regime change in Egypt in remarks late Tuesday afternoon, warning President Mubarak, who said earlier Tuesday that he will not seek a fresh term, that the transition to new leadership "must begin now." Obama's full remarks:

Good evening, everybody. Over the past few days the American people have watched the situation unfolding in Egypt. We've seen enormous demonstrations. We've borne witness to the beginning of a new chapter the history of a great country, and a longtime partner of the United States. My administration has been in close contact with our Egyptian counterparts in a broad range of the Egyptian people, as well as others across the region and across the globe. Throughout this period we've stood for a set of core principles.

First, we oppose violence, and I want to commend the Egyptian military for the professionalism and patriotism that it has shown thus far in allowing peaceful protests while protecting the Egyptian people. We've seen tanks covered with banners and soldiers and protesters embracing in the streets. Going forward, I urge the military to continue its efforts to help ensure that this time of change is peaceful.

Second, we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we've seen the incredible potentially for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. Going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserved in Egypt and around the world.

Third, we have spoken out on the need for change. After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to president Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed all of us who are privileged to serve in political positions of power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.

Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt's leaders, only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now. Furthermore it also must include a broad spectrum of voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair, and it should result in a government that's not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. Throughout this process, the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt, and we stand ready to provide any assistance that's necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests. Over the last few days, the passion and the dignity that has been demonstrated by the people of Egypt has been an inspiration to people around the world, including here in the United States, and to all those who believe in the inevitability of human freedom.

To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear. We hear your voices. I have an unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren. I say that as someone who is committed to a partnership between the United States and Egypt. There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt's futures remain unanswered, but I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers. That truth can be seen in the sense of community in the streets. It can be seen in the mothers and fathers embracing soldiers, and it can be seen in the Egyptians who linked arms to protect the national museum. A new generation protecting the treasures of antiquity. A human chain connecting a great and ancient civilization to the promise of a new day. Thank you very much.


Compare with Obama's remarks Friday.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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