Amid calls for President Hosni Mubarak to not wait until the end of his term to step down, the U.S. special envoy to Egypt told the Munich Security Conference that the 30-year ruler needs to stick around fro now.
Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt deployed there this past week to apparently urge Mubarak to hand over the reins, said Saturday that the transition "is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward."
Wisner spoke to the conference via video link from New York.
"We need to get a national consensus around
the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in
office to steer those changes," he said.
"I believe that President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical -- it's his chance to write his own legacy," Wisner added, according to reports.
President Obama also referred to Mubarak's legacy Friday in appealing for him to make "the right decision" and "make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly but also meaningful and serious."
Wisner said caution should be exercised in the transition because "this is a very volatile and dangerous time."
"The more Egyptians hear from the outside world that the president's got to go, and this has got to happen, that's got to happen, we create a negative force inside of Egypt itself," he said in arguing that rhetoric shouldn't get out of control.
The White House quickly tried to distance itself from the comments. Agence France-Presse reported that a member of the U.S. delegation said Wisner was speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of the U.S. government.
This post was updated at 4:50 p.m.