Egyptian FM Says US Message Was Confusing

CAIRO (AP) - Egypt's foreign minister has said he was furious at what he described as "confusing" messages from the United States in the early days of Egypt's protests.

In an interview Tuesday with "PBS NewsHour," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the Obama administration's message is now "much better" because he believes it understands that abrupt change will lead to chaos.

Anti-government protesters want President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, but he has said he plans to finish his term this year and then not stand for re-election.

The White House says it wants an orderly transition in Egypt, but has worked aggressively to erase conflicting messages on Egypt that have frustrated even President Barack Obama.

Aboul Gheit said U.S. statements, delivered in the first four or five days of the crisis, that change should happen "now" were unhelpful and disregarded Egyptian sensitivities, according to an interview transcript.

"I think we now have an administration that understands exactly the difficulties of the situation and the dangers and the risks that are entailed in a rush towards chaos without end," he said. "So the administration's message now is much better."

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley suggested Aboul Gheit should not be taken aback by some longtime U.S. calls for democratic reform, including repeal of an emergency law that expands police powers and restricts the right to assemble.

"With all due respect to the foreign minister, he should not be amazed - if that's the word that he used - at our call for rescinding the emergency law," Crowley said at a news briefing. "We have been calling for that for years, if not decades."