Washington (AP) - Caught up in stunning news like the rest of the world, President Barack Obama was in an Oval Office meeting Friday when he learned of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. He watched the celebration on television and prepared to make an afternoon statement.
"It is a historic day for the people of
The development came just one day after Mubarak had declared that he was not resigning, despite all signs to the contrary, which enraged the protesting masses and had a dismayed White House scrambling to respond. Obama had issued a statement Thursday evening in
And then events changed again.
Obama quickly made plans to speak about
"I am pleased that President Mubarak has heard and heeded the voice of the Egyptian people, who have called for change," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of
On Twitter, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said the young people of
"Their actions are an inspiration to the world," she said.
Biden said that throughout the unrest in
"This unity has been important," Biden said. "And it will be even more important in these delicate and fateful days ahead."
Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Friday after 29 years in power.
Now enormous questions loom about how the country will transition to free elections in September, which in turn will affect the important relationship between the
The tone from the White House has shifted right along with events. On Thursday afternoon, when Mubarak had been widely expected to step down, Obama was upbeat. "What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold," Obama said at the start of an overshadowed economic event in
Instead Mubarak seemed to dig in defiantly, speaking of ceding power to his vice president and making interim concessions. Obama responded that it was not clear whether that move was a sufficient sign of reform and he called for a "credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy." A day later, Mubarak resigned after all.