Britain urges Egypt, Tunisia to heed protesters

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the governments of Egypt and Tunisia Wednesday to listen to the concerns of their citizens and find a peaceful solution to political unrest.

Hague said British authorities "deeply regret" the loss of life in Egypt, where at least four people have died in two days of clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police.

"All parties should show restraint and avoid violence," he said in a statement on the Egyptian unrest.

"It is important that the government listens to the concerns of those demonstrating and respects rights of freedom of assembly and expression.

"Openness, transparency and political freedom are important tenets of stability. We urge the government and demonstrators to seek a peaceful way forward."

Britain has updated its travel advice for Egypt warning people to avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, he said.

In a separate statement on Tunisia, Hague said he had spoken to his counterpart Kemal Morjane and urged him to "meet the aspirations of the Tunisian people."

The uprising in Tunisia, which led to the ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, has had a ripple effect across the Arab world.

"I spoke to Foreign Minister Kemal Morjane yesterday and urged the interim government to do all it can to reach out to those Tunisians who are still fearful that they have not yet seen the fundamental political changes they have demanded," he said.

"I also urged the interim government to implement rapidly the wider commitments it has made and stressed that the UK stands ready, with the EU, to support Tunisia as it moves to hold free and fair elections."

© 2011 AFP

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