Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton implored Egyptians on Tuesday to complete their fragile and unfinished democratic transition.
Fearing that gains made since last month's ouster of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak may be lost to impatience or a hijacking of the political system by extremists, Clinton urged Egyptians to seize the opportunity to make their country a model for an inclusive Arab democracy.
"To the people of Egypt, let me say: This moment of history belongs to you," Clinton said following talks with Egypt's new foreign minister, Nabil al-Araby. "This is your achievement and you broke barriers and overcame obstacles to pursue the dream of democracy."
She called on Egypt to use its millennia-old traditions of civilization and innovation to ensure the success of their peaceful revolution.
"Today, because of the Egyptian people, Egypt is rising. Egypt, mother of the world, is now giving birth to democracy," Clinton said. "We congratulate you on embarking on what will be a very important next chapter in the storied history of Egypt."
The United States sees Egypt as a potential vanguard for reform throughout the region and is eager not to allow developments in Libya, Bahrain or elsewhere, including Yemen, to disrupt it.
Speaking beside al-Araby, Clinton said the United States understood the urgency of the situation in Libya, where forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are reclaiming territory from rebels in heavy fighting. She also expressed grave concern about developments in Bahrain where the Sunni monarchy has asked Sunni-majority neighbors in the Gulf to help it deal with an uprising by Shias, who are the majority in Bahrain.
Making her first visit to what she called the "new Egypt," Clinton said the country's path to elections and greater freedom will be hard work but that America will help.
She unveiled details of a support package aimed at helping to create jobs, mainly for Egypt's exploding youth population, and spur foreign investment. In addition to an already announced $150 million being redirected to the transition and financial sector, the aid will include tens of billions of dollars in credits and private sector loans as well as the expansion of Egyptian facilities that are able to send duty-free exports to the United States.
While trying to help Egypt resolve some of its most critical economic woes, Clinton pleaded with Egypt's transitional authorities, as well as private civic groups that played a leading role in the Mubarak protests to embrace reform guided by two key ideas: nonviolence and national unity.