Clinton: Egypt Must Transition to Democracy

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Byline: Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. appealed for an orderly transition to lasting democracy in Egypt even as escalating violence in the American ally threatened Mideast stability and put President Barack Obama in a diplomatic bind.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton refused to speculate on the future of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or his teetering government. But U.S. officials, she said, "obviously want to see people who are truly committed to democracy, not to imposing any ideology on Egyptians."

She warned against a takeover resembling the one in Iran, with a "small group that doesn't represent the full diversity of Egyptian society" seizing control and imposing its ideological beliefs.

Clinton's comments came as the Obama administration tried to get a handle on the fast-moving situation in Egypt, a critical U.S. friend in the long quest for peace in the Middle East. Left largely unsaid is the growing fear that a government hostile to the U.S. could gain control of such a large and important Arab nation.

The U.S. wants to see "real democracy" emerge in Egypt, Clinton said, "not a democracy for six months or a year and then evolving into essentially a military dictatorship or a so-called democracy that then leads to what we saw in Iran. …