WASHINGTON — The top State Department official on human rights called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday night to hold accountable any government forces that participated in the violent attacks in Cairo.
"We condemn that violence," said Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights, and labor, at an event honoring an Egyptian journalist and an Egyptian human rights attorney.
"To the extent that government forces are implicated in attacking peaceful demonstrators, journalists and the like, President Mubarak and the government have a responsibility to hold those people accountable," said Posner, as he accepted an award from the Project on Middle East Democracy at the National Press Club.
His comments were similar to a message delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a telephone call Wednesday to Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman.
Neither of the Egyptians slated to receive "Leadership in Democracy" awards Wednesday was able to attend, as they were prevented from flying out of Cairo by the chaos in the city. They recipients are Ibrahim Eissa, publisher of the opposition Egyptian newspaper Al-Dostor, and human rights attorney Gamal Eid, executive director of the Araba Network for Human Rights Information.
Posner, who also was honored, said he has worked to implement President Obama's vision of "principled engagement," applying the same human rights standards in the U.S. and in every country.
"And its tricky," said Posner. "Egypt is a place where it is clearly a challenge."
"This is clearly a moment in history where we need to keep pressing," he said.