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Russia warns against outside pressure on Egypt - Lavrov

RIA Novosti

15:07 02/02/2011 MOSCOW, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is against putting external pressure on the Egyptian leadership and people and believes that the country has to decide itself how to resolve the current political crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"Egypt is our strategic partner and a key country in the Middle East region. That it why we are not indifferent to what is happening there and are interested in Egypt being a stable, prosperous and democratic state and want today's socio-economic and political problems to be peacefully solved as soon as possible," Lavrov said during a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart Audronius Azubalis in Moscow.

It is up to Egyptian politicians and the people to decide how to do this, he added.

"We do not consider it useful to produce any recipes from outside or deliver ultimatums - it is political forces in Egypt who should speak out," Lavrov said.

Anti-government protests, which saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators demanding long-serving President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, broke out in Egypt last week. The unrest, which is seen by many analysts as a major threat to repressive governments in the region, has already claimed the lives of at least 300 people and injured several thousand.

The United States, which views Egypt as a major regional ally, has made several statements calling on the Egyptian authorities to refrain from violence against protesters and launch political reforms to assure an "orderly transition" to democracy.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that reforms in Egypt "must begin now," stopping short of calling for Mubarak to leave office.

The statement came after Mubarak's announcement that he would not run in presidential elections due in September, suggesting the veteran president was planning to stay in power for eight more months.

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