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U.S.-Egypt discuss Mubarak quitting

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- The Obama administration is in talks with top Egyptian officials about the possible immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the formation of an interim government that could prepare the country for free and fair elections later this year, U.S. officials said.
 
Creation of a military-backed caretaker government in Egypt is one of several ideas being discussed as anti-Mubarak protests escalate in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, the officials said late Thursday.
 
Those protests are expected to grow in size and intensity on Friday and the administration fears they may erupt into more widespread violence unless the government takes tangible steps to address the protesters' main demand that Mubarak leave office.
 
The officials stressed the United States isn’t seeking to impose a solution on Egypt but noted that the administration had made a judgment that Mubarak has to go soon if there is to be a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
 
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic talks, which are continuing. The talks about Mubarak's immediate departure were first reported by The New York Times.
 
White House and State Department spokesmen would not discuss details of the discussions U.S. officials are having with the Egyptians. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Thursday, a day after a similar conversation between Suleiman and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
 
Officials said neither Biden nor Clinton made a specific call for Mubarak to resign immediately but pressed for measures that would ease tensions on the streets and set the stage for democratic elections.
 
“The president has said that now is the time to begin a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations,” said White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor on Thursday night.
 
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