President Barack Obama on Tuesday challenged Egypt's embattled autocratic ruler, a staunch U.S. ally, to immediately begin the process of transitioning the country to new leadership, a signal that there should be no drawn-out goodbye.
Earlier, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had announced he would not seek another term in office but also would not yield to growing demands to step down now. After a huddle at the White House, Obama went on television to respond.
In his brief statement at the White House, Obama invoked Egypt's ancient and storied past in what appeared to be an appeal to Mubarak's desire to be remembered well in history as a powerful leader and peacemaker. He said he had spoken to Mubarak to press his case for 30 minutes shortly after Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people.
"He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place," Obama said of Mubarak. "Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in position of political 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 that this is one of the moments, this is one of those times," Obama said. He added that the United States heard those voices demanding change as anti-government protests filled the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.