While the Obama White House prods Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak toward the exit, leading US lawmakers are pressing the administration to go even further – and to make sure that Mubarak’s successor maintains strong ties to the United States.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Sen. Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told us the administration should push Mubarak to leave sooner than this fall.
“I think the administration needs to continue to put pressure on the Mubarak administration to move forward quickly with transition,” said Cardin, D-Md. “It’s clear that the people of Egypt want a government that’s going to be responsive to the needs — they want democratic institutions, they want open and free elections. And I think the administration has to continue to make it clear to President Mubarak, the sooner he moves towards that transition, the smoother it will be, and the more likelihood that there will be a moderate government in Egypt that will continue the types of policies that President Mubarak [has espoused] in regards of terrorists and in moving forward with peace in the Middle East.”
But Cardin said the US must be careful to stop short of being seen as trying to dictate outcomes in Egyptian elections.
“Obviously the decision is among the Egyptian people as to who — how they will be govern — and we need to support that free and open system,” he said. “However, we need to press very hard for a government that will be moderate as it relates to fighting extremists and terrorists. It’s a — there is an international interest in a strong partner in Egypt to fight the extremism in that region, and to help us in our war against terror and move forward with peace in the Middle East.”