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Obama White House Responds to Growing Egyptian Chaos


"Violence is not the response."

Editor's note: This post has been updated following a live video event. The live stream of a White House press briefing on the crisis in Egypt has been replaced with an Associated Press story recapping the administration's response.

WASHINGTON (AP/The Blaze) -- The Obama administration threatened on Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion program of foreign aid to Egypt based on President Hosni Mubarak's response to swelling street protests in Cairo and other cities.

"Violence is not the response" to the demands for greater freedoms, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, adding that the Egyptian government needs to "turn the Internet and social networking sites back on."

Gibbs said President Barack Obama had been briefed extensively about the fast-unfolding events but had not tried to speak with Mubarak by phone.

The White House spokesman's repeated calls for the government of Egypt to abandon violence was the latest response along those lines by the administration, struggling to keep abreast of a growing crisis inside a nation that has long been an ally in Middle East peace-making efforts, yet also has long denied basic rights to its own people.

Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the government in Egypt should restore access to the Internet and social media sites.

"We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters, and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces," Clinton told reporters at the State Department.

Asked about aid to Egypt, currently running at about $1.5 billion a year, Gibbs said the review would include both military help and other assistance.

While the White House spokesman was emphatic in his calls for Mubarak and his government to abandon violence, he was less forceful on other issues.

Asked about Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure who has been placed under house arrest, he said, "This is an individual who is a Nobel laureate" and has worked with Obama. "These are the type of actions that the government has a responsibility to change."

Asked whether the U.S would prefer a different, more tolerant government in Egypt, he said, "I don't want to project into the future. I don't think that would be a wise use of my time. The government of Egypt is an issue for the people of Egypt."

He suggested contingency plans had been made for the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, should that become necessary.

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