US reaches out to ElBaradei

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US ambassador in Cairo has spoken to Egyptian opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei to convey support for an orderly transition to democracy in Egypt, the US State Department said Tuesday.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on his Twitter account that Ambassador Margaret Scobey had contacted ElBaradei, but did not provide details of the conversation.

ElBaradei has emerged as a key voice opposing the regime of Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak, a key US ally in the region who is faced with massive protests calling for the end of his 30-year authoritarian rule.

President Barack Obama’s administration has urged Mubarak to introduce major reforms and move the country toward democracy, but has not publicly supported demands for his resignation.

ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been sharply critical of the US response to the unrest in Egypt. He charged that Washington’s support for Mubarak contradicts its policy of promoting democracy around the world and the Middle East.

“You need to review your policy,” ElBaradei said on CNN Monday night. “You need to let go of Mubarak. You shouldn’t be behind the curve, and you need to start building confidence with the people and not with the people who are smothering the people.”

The US has had a troubled relationship with ElBaradei in the past. During the George W. Bush administration and while ElBaradei was director of the IAEA, he and the US clashed over the status of Iraq’s then-alleged weapons of mass destruction programmes. ElBaradei was a sharp critic of Bush’s war in Iraq.

The Bush administration had initially opposed appointing ElBaradei to serve a third term in 2005 as head of the IAEA before dropping its objections.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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