As it began the process of evacuating its citizens and officials from Cairo, the United States on Tuesday advocated an orderly transition in Egypt and ruled out playing any role in the leader election process in the Arab nation.
Though it stopped short of asking Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an American ally for more than three decades, to step down, but clearly stated that the steps being taken by him in view of the growing pro-democracy demonstration across the country is far from satisfactory.
"I do believe orderly transition means change, and what we've advocated from the very beginning is that the way Egypt looks and operates must change," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters here.
"That's why we believe we should increase the amount of freedom that is had by the Egyptian people on association, on assembly, on speech, on Internet and open communication.
But that's not for us to determine what the parameters and what the limits of those are. But undoubtedly, transition in this case means change. There's no doubt about that," he observed.
Mr. Gibbs argued that an orderly transition has to include a process of negotiations with a broad cross-section of the Egyptian people, including those that are in the political opposition at the moment.
"I don't think the grievances are going to be met unless there's some measure of that involved. They have to address the freedoms that the people of Egypt seek," he said.
This is not about appointments; this is about actions, he argued.
At the same time, the White House categorically ruled out playing any role in the leader selection process.
"It is not up to us to determine when the grievances of the Egyptian people have been met by the Egyptian government. We have said all along that there are legitimate concerns and grievances had by the Egyptian people for a long time -- the need for freedom to associate, freedom to communicate over the Internet, freedom to assemble, the freedom of speech -- and that those must be addressed in a substantive way by the Egyptian government," he said.
"We're not picking between those on the street and those in the government," he said.
"The United States government does not determine who's on the ballot. The question is whether or not those elections are going to be free and fair. That'"s what we would weigh in on and weigh in on strongly," Mr. Gibbs said.
Mr. Gibbs said President Barack Obama is being constantly kept updated on this issue.
The street protests aiming for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak have caused disruption in Cairo and Alexandria and other Egyptian cities.