Clinton urges end to violence, but stresses Egyptian partnership

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday urged both the Egyptian government and street protesters to halt violent activity and called on the government to lift its blockade on electronic communications.

Clinton's remarks were widely watched to see if the administration would offer a staunch rebuke of the Egyptian government, which the U.S. counts as an ally in the Middle East, but she avoided sharp criticism and stressed the need for reform and cooperation.

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As protests against the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak raged for a fourth straight day, Clinton said the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about the use of violence against demonstrators, but called on both sides to "refrain from violence."

Clinton said that the government needs to understand the people's "deep grievances" against it, adding, "The Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."

The anti-government protests have spread as the week has gone by. The Associated Press reported Friday that the ruling party's headquarters in the capital city of Cairo had been set ablaze, and Al-Jazeera English TV showed images of security forces firing tear-gas canisters into a group of people participating in a Muslim prayer service.



That came after reports that the Internet went off in several parts of the country and text messaging was blocked.


"We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to shut down communications," Clinton said.

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Mubarak should not step aside and declined to call him a dictator.

Clinton said that Egypt has been a "strong partner" in regional and strategic interests and said the U.S. wants to engage with both the people and government to reach reforms to create greater openness.

"We strongly believe that the Egyptian government needs to engage with its people on immediate reforms," she said. "We want to partner with the Egyptian people and its government."

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