Clinton Visits Egyptian Protester Site

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While in Cairo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pays a visit to Tahrir Square — the site where the revolution in Egypt began.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up a visit to Egypt today with a tour of the square where the country's revolution played out. Clinton paid tributes to the protesters who brought down Hosni Mubarak's regime.

And NPR's Michele Kelemen was with her.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton strolled through Tahrir Square asking two local U.S. embassy staffers about what it was like during the protests.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): It's very exciting and very moving to see where this revolution happened and all that it has meant to the world is extraordinary for me. It's just a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and a universal desire for freedom and human rights and democracy. And it's thrilling to see where this happened.

Unidentified Man #1: Welcome to Egypt.

Sec. CLINTON: Thank you. Wonderful to see you.

KELEMEN: She shook hands with men and women taking her photograph and with a little girl held up by her father to get a good view.

Sec. CLINTON: How are you? Nice to meet you. I love your pink jacket.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELEMEN: Though she came to show support for what's happening in Egypt, one man made clear he's worried about another crisis in the Arab world.

Sec. CLINTON: Hello.

Unidentified Man #2: You must help Libya.

Sec. CLINTON: We are trying. We are trying.

Unidentified Man #2: People.

KELEMEN: Though the crowd was friendly to Clinton, some of the youth movements turned down invitations to meet her and complained that the trip was ill-timed. Egypt is preparing for a referendum on constitutional changes and some here worry that the military rulers are rushing the vote and their schedule for elections. And that will only favor established parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Clinton refused to weigh in on that as she toured Tahrir Square.

Sec. CLINTON: Those are their decisions and they obviously are doing an extraordinary job trying to organize a new government and we're going to do all we can to help them.

KELEMEN: But after a meeting last night with activists, one of Clinton's aides said privately that the U.S. is worried about the election schedule. The official said it is, quote, "daunting for Egyptians to do this in a contracted period of time in a country that hasn't had a proper political process for 30 years," adding, it will take time for those who were on Tahrir Square to create political parties out of a street movement.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Cairo.

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