9 Feb 2011

US urges Egyptian leader to stand down soon

10:28 pm on 9 February 2011

The United States has put further pressure on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to stand down in the near future.

In a telephone call, Vice-President Joe Biden told his Egyptian counterpart Omar Suleiman that emergency law, in place for decades, should be lifted at once.

Mr Biden spoke on Tuesday after the biggest anti-Mubarak demonstration in Cairo since the protests began on 25 January.

Many of the protesters say reforms announced do not go far enough and they are sceptical about a peaceful transition process being managed by the Government.

Mr Mubarak has said he will stay in office until elections in September, when he plans to step down.

Mr Biden urged that the transition should produce "immediate, irreversible progress that responds to the aspirations of the Egyptian people".

He also called on the Egyptian government to stop arresting and beating journalists and activists.

The interior ministry should be restrained immediately and there should be a clear policy of no reprisals, he said.