Egyptians Take the Streets, Mubarak Fires Ministers, Obama Speaks (live blog)

US President Barack Obama is preparing for a press conference and statement following Egyptian President’s Hosni Mubarak’s earlier TV appearance on Nile Television.   No questions for Mubarak.  How about Obama?

markknoller Mark Knoller

Pres. Obama willl be making his statement with the famous portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the wall behind him.

Other US reactions:

Equity Markets fall while Oil Prices rise.

Crude oil prices spiked Friday as anti-government protests in Egypt sparked concerns over regional stability.

Prices settled just shy of $90 a barrel, for an increase of more than 4%.

Clinton Urges Egypt to Seize Moment `Immediately’ for Reforms

The Obama administration is ramping up pressure on President Hosni Mubarak to address the grievances of the Egyptian people and said the government’s response to protests may affect U.S. aid.

“The people of Egypt are watching the government’s actions, they have for quite some time, and their grievances have reached a boiling point and they have to be addressed,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in Washington. The U.S. will be looking at its “assistance posture” toward Egypt, Gibbs said.

Starting with an early afternoon statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. today toughened its criticism of Mubarak’s methods in suppressing protests that pose the biggest challenge to his 30-year rule over the Arab world’s most populous country.

“For the U.S., any effort on our part to provide support for Mubarak is going to be read in Egypt as support for a crackdown and support for an undemocratic regime,” said Steven Cook, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “We need to be forward looking for this.”

More than 80 percent of U.S. aid to Egypt, or $1.3 billion, is in the form of military assistance, according to data supplied by the U.S. State Department. With President Barack Obama in power, military aid has stayed unchanged and economic assistance has been cut to $250 million from $411 million in 2008 with the phasing out of democracy-linked programs.

The amount of money Egypt receives from the U.S. is exceeded only by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, based on the State Department’s budget request for the current fiscal year.

Senator John Kerry is talking on AJ right now.  He’s encouraging Mubarak to make changes.  He’s also saying it’s not constructive right now to focus on negatives but positives.  He’s saying Mubarak has opportunities.  Wonder if this will be what Obama says …

ON NOW … 6:31  EST.  It’s on CNN, etc.

UPDATE:  President Obama’s statement via MSNBC.

AJ has a front row seat to this via a bureau there.  BTW, take a look at how many silly Americans are leaving best wishes comments to Egyptians on this media outlet that is headquartered in Doha, Qatar and run/owned by folks from there. Such a geography #FAIL.  On top of that, Egypt can’t get access to the internet right now.  (Palm meet forehead!)

Live blog from Al Jazeera

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