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Mubarak to Announce Sept. Step-Down as Obama Urges Him Not to Seek Re-Election

Egyptian anti-government protesters pray in front of an Egyptian army tankduring a protest in Tahrir …The New York Times is reporting that President Obama is urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to not seek re-election. According to unnamed sources cited by Arab TV outlet Al Arabiya, Mubarak will oblige the president and announce he will step away after his term expires in September:

President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally, according to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington.

Al Arabiya television, citing unnamed sources, reported that Mr. Mubarak would announce in a nationwide address Tuesday evening that he would not run for another term.

The message was conveyed to Mr. Mubarak by Frank G. Wisner, a seasoned former diplomat with deep ties to Egypt, these officials said. Mr. Wisner’s message, they said, was not a blunt demand for Mr. Mubarak to step aside now, but firm counsel that he should make way for a reform process that would culminate in free and fair elections in September to elect a new Egyptian leader.

This back channel message, authorized directly by Mr. Obama, would appear to tip the administration beyond the delicate balancing act it has performed in the last week — resisting calls for Mr. Mubarak to step down, even as it has called for an “orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt.

If Mubarak does announce today that he is stepping aside but not for another seven months, it’s unclear if that will placate the thousands of protesters currently gathered in the heart of Cairo.

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