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Obama calls Egyptian military leader on transition to democracy

(Xinhua)

09:29, January 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday called leader of Egyptian military council Hussein Tantawi to underscore the U.S. support for Egypt's transition to democracy, White House said in a statement.

"President Obama called Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi today to reaffirm the close partnership between the United States and Egypt and to underscore the United States'support for Egypt's transition to democracy," said the White House.

White House said the two leaders discussed Egypt's economic situation and the ongoing discussions between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on an economic program which is aimed at shoring up the country's crippling economy.

The call came after IMF said on Wednesday that it had conducted productive talks with the Egyptian authorities on a possible IMF supported program to help the nation tide over economic challenges.

Obama also reiterated the necessity of upholding universal principles and the important role that civil society, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), stressing that the NGOs should be able to "operate freely."

At the end of last year, Egyptian police and prosecutors searched 17 local and foreign groups' offices in Egypt over suspected illicit funding activities. The searched NGOs included U. S.-based International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The United States has reacted angrily, voicing deep concerns on these moves and even threatening to cut its military aid to Egypt.

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