Merkel, Zapatero urge rapid, peaceful transition in Egypt

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The leaders of Spain and Germany Thursday demanded a peaceful transition to democracy in Egypt "as soon as possible" after a popular uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.

"We want democracy in Egypt as soon as possible through a process of dialogue, of peaceful agreement," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We want democracy to come with peace, to be reached through peace and consensus, that is the obligation of the government of Egypt."

Egypt's long-standing president Mubarak is facing mass protests calling for him to quit power, which erupted Wednesday into violent clashes between opponents and supporters of his rule.

"Now it's important that political dialogue starts in Egypt as soon as possible, that all those who have the desire, the goal of freedom and democracy are heard," said Merkel.

"Europe speaks with one voice, the Egyptian president and government must assume their responsibilities so that people can demonstrate peacefully and that there is freedom of information in Egypt."

She added that "the attacks on demonstrators must stop now, the Egyptian government is also responsible for that, and those responsible for the attacks yesterday and today must be brought to justice as soon as possible."

© 2011 AFP

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