Clinton calls for ‘orderly transition’ in Egypt


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Sunday for an “orderly transition” in Egypt but stopped short of demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down as protests engulfed his regime.

Mubarak, who appointed military intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his first ever vice president on Saturday and named a new premier to try to assuage his people’s thirst for change, must go further, Clinton said.

“That is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we’ve been urging,” she told ABC News.

As the anti-government revolt in Egypt raged into a sixth day amid increasing lawlessness and mass jail breaks, Clinton did a sweep of Sunday morning talk shows in the United States to outline the US position.

“We’re trying to promote an orderly transition and change that will respond to the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, which the protests are all about,” she told CBS.

“We are urging the Mubarak government, which is still in power, we are urging the military, which is a very respected institution in Egypt, to do what is necessary to facilitate that kind of orderly transition.”

President Barack Obama’s administration has performed a delicate balancing act over the past week, pushing for reform while refusing to cut off its crucial military aid or call directly on Mubarak, a longtime ally, to go.

“There is no discussion as of this time about cutting off any aid” to Egypt, Clinton reiterated on ABC.

US military aid to Egypt amounts to $1.3 billion a year, and the total American aid bill to the country averages close to $2 billion annually.

In 2007, Washington committed to providing $13 billion in military aid to Egypt over 10 years as part of a wider military aid package for its Middle Eastern allies.

Meanwhile, as the protests continued for a sixth day and the toll soared above 100, the United States has started organizing the evacuation of their nationals.

“The US embassy in Cairo informs US citizens in Egypt who wish to depart that the department of state is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Europe,” an embassy statement said.

President Barack Obama gathered his national security team at the White House Saturday for a session lasting just over an hour on the latest developments in Egypt.

The US president “reiterated our focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights; and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform within Egypt,” a White House statement said.