President Obama speaks in Washington, D.C., about Egyptian President… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )
President Obama said he telephoned Hosni Mubarak today to tell the Egyptian President that "an orderly transition must be meaningful, must be peaceful and it must begin now."
Obama said he called Mubarak after the Egyptian president delivered a defiant televised message in which he promised he would not seek reelection but vowed to remain in office to oversee a peaceful transfer of power.
In a televised address of his own, Obama said he told Mubarak that change must take place immediately. But the American president did not explicitly criticize Mubarak's decision to delay a departure until new elections are held this fall.
He said Mubarak understood that "the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place."
Critics have questioned whether the Obama administration has taken too long to articulate that message. But Obama said that, as his emissaries have dealt with Egyptian officials and others across the region in recent days, they've "stood for a set of core principles" based on nonviolence, freedom and change.
The process of settling on new leadership for Egypt must include "a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties," Obama said, and it must lead to free and fair elections.
"It is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt's leaders," the president said, speaking in the grand foyer of the White House. "Only the Egyptian people can do that."