The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Under the proposal, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, the Times said, citing administration officials and Arab diplomats.
It also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country's electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the Times said.
Commenting on the report, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said, "The President, Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton and others have encouraged the Egyptian government to proceed with an orderly transition. Beyond that, we will keep our advice private."
Senior Obama administration officials said the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mubarak, although not him directly, in an effort to convince him to step down now, the paper said.
Although Mubarak has balked so far at leaving immediately, officials from both governments are continuing talks about the plan, the Times said.
Mubarak told ABC News on Thursday that if he stepped down now after days of massive street protests, Egypt would fall into chaos and the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group, would take control.