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Obama: Egypt transition ‘must begin now’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The transition in Egypt "must begin now," President Obama said.

Obama spoke Tuesday about two hours after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he would not run in presidential elections scheduled for September, and would prepare for a peaceful handover of power to his successor.

It was not clear from Obama’s statement whether this was sufficient or if he wanted Mubarak to step down sooner. Opposition groups have said that Mubarak must step down now.

"An orderly transition must be meaningful, must be peaceful and must begin now," Obama said. "It should include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties."

Obama said he had spoken to Mubarak following the Egyptian president’s address.

"He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place," the American leader said.

Obama said it was not the role of outside governments to determine what happens next in Egypt, but stressed that he is "committed to a partnership" with Egypt.

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