Obama asks Mubarak to halt crackdown on protestors

Washington: US President Barack Obama today called on his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to halt the crackdown on protestors, saying Washington would continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work along with their government to ensure a better future.

Obama, who spoke to Mubarak for 30 minutes, asked the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal.

That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere," Obama said in his statement to the press.

Obama spoke with Mubarak after the latter addressed the nation, in which he ordered the resignation of his entire Cabinet.

The US President also called on the Egyptian government to restore services of Internet and cellphone, which was earlier suspended following the protests.

"At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek," he said in his remarks addressed to the protestors.

"Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we`ve cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region.

But we`ve also been clear that there must be reform — political, social and economic reforms that meet aspirations of the Egyptian people," he said.

Noting that grievances have built up over time in the absence of these reforms, Obama said Mubarak pledged for a better democracy and greater economic opportunity when he addressed the Egyptian people.

"I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," Obama said.

Violence, he argued, would not address the grievances of the Egyptian people.

"And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What`s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people."

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