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EGYPT: European leaders urge democratic reforms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several other European leaders have urged the Egyptian government to enact democratic reforms and stop further violence against protesters.

Merkel told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a Sunday phone call that she expects him and his newly appointed government to grant freedom of information and the right to assemble to the people of Egypt, government spokesman Steffen Seibert told the Associated Press in a statement.

The German leader urged Mubarak in a lengthy conversation to open dialogue with the country's citizens, and focus in particular on the concerns of Egypt's youth. She also told him that security forces have to stop their harsh crackdown on protesters.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said, "It is with friendship and respect that France will be on the side of Tunisians and Egyptians in such a crucial period.

“Our conscience needs to be pricked by the cries of innocent victims and move us toward finding a workable solution to prevent further suffering,” he added.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, also speaking Sunday at the summit, called on the Egyptian government to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama discussed the Egyptian crisis Sunday evening, a spokeswoman for the prime minister said.

"The prime minister and the president agreed that the Egyptian government must respond peacefully to the ongoing protests," a spokeswoman told the AP on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. "They condemned the violence of recent days… The prime minister made clear that restrictions on the media and Internet were unacceptable and should be lifted immediately."

Cameron and Obama are "united in their view that Egypt now needed a comprehensive process of political reform, with an orderly, Egyptian-led transition leading to a government that responded to the grievances of the Egyptian people," the spokeswoman said.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that Foreign Secretary William Hague had spoken with his Egyptian counterpart, but did not release any details.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini demanded an end to violence and looting Sunday, particularly of Egypt's ancient artifacts.

European Union officials said the unrest in Egypt would top the agenda at a meeting of EU foreign ministers Monday in Brussels, as European countries advised their citizens to leave the region.

RELATED:

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Egyptian opposition leaders plan to negotiate with military, not president

Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks with counterparts in Egypt, Israel about unrest


— Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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