US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a web chat on Wednesday told Egypt's young revolutionaries to remain committed to the long struggle toward true democracy and be mindful of any group or emerging leader trying to "hijack" the process.
Answering some of the more than 6,500 questions that had been submitted online, Clinton also warned Egypt against taking a "step backwards" by restricting the rights of women or minority groups such as Christians.
"What Egypt is now grappling with is how to have a sustainable, enduring democracy, where, yes, the rights of minorities are protected, the rights of women are protected," Clinton told Egypt's Masrawy.com.
"I hope that as this revolution moves forward into the hard work of creating and keeping a democracy, that everyone will have a place at the table."
Clinton defended the cautious initial response by the US to the protests that eventually led to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's ouster, and also to prepare Egyptians for the messiness and disagreements that come with a democratic political system.
"I have no doubt in my mind that this can be done, as long as people do not get exhausted, frustrated, give up too soon, because the process is sometimes very hard to deal with," she said.
"Be patient, persistent, stay committed to the goal of democracy, work to build the institutions that will be necessary for true Egyptian democracy."
The Egyptian military, which took power after Mubarak's departure, has promised to manage a transitional government and hold elections in September. That prospect has sparked concerns from some US lawmakers that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could take power.
Clinton said that the choice of who should govern remained with the Egyptian people, but she urged all parties to renounce violence and extremism and called for looming changes in the constitution to ensure that there could not be a return to autocratic rule.
"We don't want to see any political party or any ideology try to hijack the process," Clinton said. "So I think there need to be safeguards built in within the constitution and the laws of Egypt to make sure that it's a true democracy."