| WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said he was confident that an orderly political transition in Egypt would produce a government that will remain a US partner.|
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Obama also said the ideology of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which is President Hosni Mubarak's best organized opposition group, included anti-US strains.
But the Brotherhood lacked majority support, he said.
"So it's important for us not to say that our only two options are either the Muslim Brotherhood, or a suppressed Egyptian people," he said.
"What I want is a representative government in Egypt and I have confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process, that we'll have a government in Egypt that we can work with together as a partner."
Obama said only Mubarak, who took power in 1981, knew if he would leave office soon.
"But here's what we know -- that Egypt is not going to go back to what it was," the U.S. leader said. "The Egyptian people want freedom, they want free and fair elections, they want a representative government, they want a responsible government. So what we have said is you have to start a transition now."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a broad cross-section of Egyptian political forces to be included in talks with the government to make sure that people's "legitimate aspirations" were met.
In a conversation with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik on Saturday night, Clinton "emphasized the need to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people are met, and that a broad cross-section of political actors and civil society have to be a part of the Egyptian-led process," the State Department said in a statement on Sunday.
Clinton also stressed that incidents of harassment and detention of activists, journalists and other elements of civil society must stop, the statement said. It gave no other details of the conversation.
But she also appeared to soften U.S. pressure on Mubarak to step down.
"We want to see a process begun that will lead to an orderly transition that has milestones and concrete steps that lead us toward free and fair elections," Clinton told reporters on her airplane on Sunday returning from a Munich security conference.