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EGYPT: CIA's Leon Panetta says Hosni Mubarak exit not confirmed

February 10, 2011 | 10:27 am

Panetta Leon Panetta, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the U.S. has not been able to confirm that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is about to step down.

“We haven’t been able to confirm in fact that he is going to do that, so we are monitoring the situation,” CIA Director Leon Panetta told a Bloomberg reporter in Washington, following a House committee hearing on security threats.

Panetta, who said during the hearing that he was aware of reports of an impending Mubarak resignation, said the public should not take those remarks as “insight that this in fact going to happen.”

Asked during the hearing about the effect of a possible regime change on the Middle East, Panetta said it was not certain.

“The key is this -- if there is an orderly transition and if Egypt can move to reach out to all the elements of the opposition and be able to develop a timeline for political reforms -- if they can move in that kind of orderly process -- then I think it would have a positive effect,” Panetta told lawmakers.

“If, on the other hand, this turns in another direction then that too could affect not only the security of Israel but other nations,” Panetta said.

--  Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta responds to a question while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 10, 2011. Credit: Shawn Thew/EPA