Prez Obama calls for restraint, reforms in Egypt

Washington: Amid anti-regime riots in Egypt that have claimed over 100 lives, US President Barack Obama has sought restraint and favoured "concrete steps" aimed at advancing political reforms in the Arab nation, as he held key talks with his national security team to assess the situation there.

"He reiterated our focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights; and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform within Egypt," the White House said in a statement last evening after the meeting.

The US President was updated on the current situation in Egypt during the meeting with his national security aides that lasted for about an hour.

Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and his deputy Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism John Brennan, the Vice President`s National Security Adviser Tony Blinken and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes were present at the meeting.

Senior Director for the Central Region Dennis Ross, Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Dan Shapiro, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Senior Adviser David Plouffe also attended the meeting.

Earlier, Obama, who spoke to Mubarak for 30 minutes on Friday, had called on the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

"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," he had said in a statement.

Obama had also urged the Egyptian government to restore services of Internet and cellphones, which were suspended following the protests.