CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Friday that talks between the Egyptian government and its political opponents were in the initial stages, but warned that the mere "pretense of reform" would not be enough to resolve that country's deepening crisis.
The transition of power "must begin now" and lead to "free and fair elections," he declared. Negotiations must "include a broad representation of the Egyptian opposition," he told reporters.
Asked if embattled President Hosni Mubarak needs to step down now - as opposed to waiting for a successor to be chosen in Egypt's September elections - Obama said Mubarak needs to consult with advisers and listen to what's "being voiced by the Egyptian people."
The Egyptian leader is "proud" but also a "patriot," Obama said. Mubarak needs to make a judgment about his legacy and the best "pathway forward." Violence and repression have no role in the "orderly transition process," he added. "The whole world is watching."
Obama noted he has had two conversations with Mubarak since the crisis began.
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