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Obama urges Egypt army chief to lift state of emergency

US president also discusses the two country's long0standing security interests during telephone conversation that touched upon on civil liberties for Egyptians living under military rule

AFP, Tuesday 25 Oct 2011
Egypt's de-facto ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi (Photo: Reuters)
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US President Barack Obama urged Egypt's army chief to lift a state of emergency and end military trials for civilians, according to a telephone conversation announced Monday by the White House.

Obama also asked Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to "reaffirm the close partnership between the United States and Egypt" and to "underscore his full support for Egypt's transition to democracy," a statement said.

"The two leaders agreed that Egypt's upcoming elections must be free and fair and be held in accordance with democratic standards," it added, with Obama noting that "the outcome of the election is for the Egyptian people to decide."

The two leaders also discussed Egypt's economic situation with the president emphasising his support for full funding by Congress of the administration's request for assistance for Egypt, without conditions.

Obama and Tantawi also "underscored their intention to continue to cooperate closely on counter-terrorism and regional security," the statement said.

Egypt has been ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces since the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak in February in the wake of huge anti-government protests.

A caretaker government is in place in the run-up to legislative elections starting on 28 November.

A new constitution is to be drafted by Egypt's new government and the army has promised to hand over power once a new president has been elected but no date for a presidential vote has yet been set.

Activists involved in this year's uprising have said that the army has been reluctant to carry out genuine reforms. Heightened frustration has led to protests, strikes and deadly clashes.

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