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US intensifies efforts to end crisis in Egypt

world Updated: Feb 06, 2011 12:09 IST

PTI
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The US on Sunday stepped up efforts for a speedy transition of power in Egypt, where embattled President Hosni Mubarak's powerful son Gamal and top leaders of ruling party quit their posts, amid reports that key opposition group Muslim Brotherhood has entered talks with officials on ending the 13-day revolt against the regime.

Protesters braved heavy rains to stay overnight at the Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the hub of the unrelenting demonstrations against Mubarak's 30-year regime.

The scene in Tahrir area, which has become a "tent city" with tens of thousands of people demonstrating there almost everyday, was relatively calm shortly before dawn today, Al-Jazeera said.

In a bid to end the crisis, the outlawed opposition group Muslim Brotherhood said it was joining talks with new Vice President Omar Suleiman, it said.

The group had previously rejected any dialogue until 82-year-old Mubarak steps down.

Describing the announcement as "highly significant", the channel said the Muslim brotherhood is "interested in talking about the resignation" of Mubarak.

However, the protesters vowed not to back down on their demand for Mubarak's immediate ouster. "We have to be steady to topple the government," Ahmed Abdel Moneim, a 22-year-old student who has been sleeping in the Square for days, was quoted as saying by the channel. "... If we have to spend our life (like this) to get rid of Mubarak, we will."

US President Barack Obama called several world leaders to discuss the current situation in Egypt, emphasising the need for immediate beginning of an "orderly peaceful transition".

Obama spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the White House said.

"The President discussed his serious concern about the targeting of journalists and human rights groups, and reaffirmed that the government of Egypt has a responsibility to protect the rights of its people and to release immediately those who have been unjustly detained," it said.

"The President emphasised the importance of an orderly, peaceful transition, beginning now, to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people, including credible, inclusive negotiations between the government and the opposition," it said.

Separately, US Vice President Joe Biden called his new Egyptian counterpart Omar Suleiman to stress the need for "immediate steps" which demonstrate the Egyptian government's commitment to reforms, the White House said.