Clinton to Egypt: ‘Allow peaceful protest’
Police van slams into protesterNEW: Hillary Clinton called on Egypt “to allow peaceful protests and reverse steps to cut off communications”White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said via Twitter he is “very concerned about violence in Egypt”President Barack Obama is requesting daily “multiple briefings” on the unfolding crisisPresident Obama has not called President Hosni Mubarak, who protesters demand resign
(CNN) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Egypt’s government “to allow peaceful protests and reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications.”
“We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters, and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything within its power to restrain its security forces,” Clinton said.
“At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully,” she said.
Servers of Egypt’s main internet provider were down early Friday, including servers for the Egyptian government’s sites and for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
“As a partner we strongly believe that the Egyptian government needs to engage with the Egyptian people immediately,” Clinton told reporters, referring to the unfolding crisis in several Egyptian cities where thousands of demonstrators are clashing with state security forces.
“They need to view civil society as their partner, not a threat,” she said.
At least one internet service provider, Noor, was still working.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that he is “very concerned about violence in Egypt.”
He said on Twitter that the “government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet.”
President Barack Obama has requested “multiple briefings” on Egypt, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Friday.
He has not called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — the target of the protesters’ anger — “But there is daily contact between the U.S. and Egyptian governments through various channels, including the embassies and other organizations in which Obama’s messages and concerns are relayed,” Vietor said.
Obama has urged the government and demonstrators to refrain from violence as protests continued.
“It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances,” he said this week.
Vice President Joe Biden told PBS NewsHour on Thursday that Mubarak should listen to protesters, but rejected claims that the embattled Egyptian president is a dictator.
Egypt, a key U.S. ally in the region, receives about $1.3 billion in military aid from Washington every year, second only to Israel, and has received nearly $30 billion in economic aid since 1975, according to State Department figures.
Still, Biden said, “Violence isn’t appropriate, and people have a right to protest.”
Obama received information on Egypt from national security adviser Tom Donilon on Friday and will get other updates later.
He noted Thursday that Mubarak has been “very helpful on a range of tough issues,” but he said he has pushed the Egyptian leader to take steps toward reform.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday that the agency is “closely monitoring the situation and are aware that communication services, including social media, are being blocked.”
“We continue to urge Egyptian authorities to show restraint and allow peaceful protests to occur,” Crowley said.
On Wednesday, Gibbs said the U.S. administration was “monitoring quite closely the situation in Egypt and continue to do so, obviously, in Tunisia.”
The protests in Egypt started after weeks of similar disturbances sparked a revolution in Tunisia and forced then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.“This is an important time for the government to demonstrate its responsiveness to the people of Egypt in recognizing those universal rights,” Gibbs said.