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'The Egyptian people want to be able to determine their own future'

The Egyptian government should listen to the aspirations of its people and take the necessary steps to address some of those issues and concerns, says the White House National Security Spokesman.

Mike Hammer

National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer

Mike Hammer is the White House National Security Spokesman.

Deutsche Welle: Mr. Hammer, protests in Egypt and Yemen, a toppled government in Tunisia - there is a lot of unrest in the region. Are these develepments a reason for the US government to be concerned or to be hopeful?

Mike Hammer: President Obama has made a clear expression of support for the Tunisian people and their efforts to advance their aspirations by having Jeffrey Feltman (Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs - ed.) there this week to show American support for the efforts that are being made by the interim government, to address some of the human rights issues to prosecute previous corruption to ensure that political prisoners are released and again to put forward an effort that addresses the concerns of the Tunisian people.

If we turn to the situation in Egypt, President Obama has for some time called on President Mubarak to move forward with political, social and economic reforms. And what we need to make sure here is that as the President said in his Cairo speech (Obama's 2009 speech at Cairo University as part of efforts to improve US relations with the Muslim world - ed.), people want to be able to determine their own future, to have a voice and participate in a government that's what democracy is about, that's a universal aspiration and the rights that the US certainly supports when you're talking about freedom of the press, freedom of assembly.

And what we call on in Egypt is for calm and peaceful demonstrations and an exchange that can allow the Egyptian people to express their aspirations and for the government to listen to those aspirations and make the necessary changes.

So you support the young people who are protesting in the streets in Egypt and they are protesting against the Egyptian government - do you still consider President Mubarak to be a reliable ally ?

First we don't think there's a choice to be made here, yes, President Mubarak and Egypt have been an important partner and ally of the US and have made great efforts in terms of advancing the peace process.

But we have also through the years communicated to the Egyptian government that it needs to undertake certain reforms, it needs to have greater transparency, free and fair elections. And that's what you're seeing now, you're seeing the Egyptian people express desire for change. We are encouraging the government to listen and to consider some of the steps that have to be taken to address the aspirations of the people.

As President Obama has said previously those governments that allow for people's aspirations to be realized, that allow for certain freedoms that we all recognize as universal will be stronger and more successful governments and those that don't won't be.

Interview: Christina Bergmann (Deutsche Welle, Washington)
Editor: Rob Mudge

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