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WASHINGTON — 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 Egypt,” declared Vice President Joe Biden during an appearance in Kentucky.
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 Washington in which he challenged Mubarak, without directly naming him, to explain his actions and his plans for democracy.
And then events changed again.
Obama quickly made plans to speak Friday afternoon from the White House as throngs of activists rejoiced in Cairo.
Lost in the jubilation were questions of who will end up in control of Egypt and whether the United States will emerge with the kind of stable partner it badly needs in the volatile Middle East.
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