U.S. Presses For Mubarak Transition

As protesters on the streets of Cairo continued to demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down, there were new glimpses into the sensitive diplomatic strategy the Obama administration is using to help bring about a transition in which Mubarak himself helps to dismantle his own power structure.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, urged support for the man Mubarak named to carry out that transition, Vice President Omar Suleiman.

"There are forces in at work in any society," Clinton said, "in particular in one that is facing these kinds of challenges, who will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own specific agenda, which is why I think it's important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government actually headed by now-Vice President Omar Suleiman."

Clinton said President Hosni Mubarak "has given a clear message to his government to lead and support this process of transition." Negotiations are beginning, she said, on constitutional reform and on setting up and legitimizing nonviolent political parties.

"That is what the government has said it is trying to do," Clinton added. "That is what we are supporting, and hope to see it move as orderly but as expeditiously as possible, under the circumstances."

But at that same forum, top diplomats from around the world heard a somewhat different message from a former ambassador whom U.S. President Barack Obama dispatched last week to negotiate directly with Mubarak.