Egypt’s Suleiman to Seek Dialogue With Opposition

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman
A file photo of newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman. Photographer: Tara Todras-Whitehill/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered his government to start talks with the opposition, which is leading protests to unseat him, Vice President Omar Suleiman said.

Suleiman, who spoke on state television, said he would lead the talks.

The announcement came on the eve of an opposition-called national strike coupled with a planned million-person march in Cairo demanding Mubarak’s resignation and free elections.

The talks will include constitutional and legislative reforms, as well as a time frame for their implementation, Suleiman said. Suleiman also said Mubarak approves of a court decision to repeat elections in some districts where some people had filed complaints after November’s voting.

Suleiman, reading a statement, said the government’s priority is to restore confidence in the economy and fight unemployment and corruption.

Mubarak gave orders for the government to issue a policy statement "within days," he said.

Mubarak responded to opposition protests by appointing Suleiman, the country’s intelligence chief, as vice president on Jan. 29, the first time he has designated a possible political successor.

Suleiman has been a close adviser to Mubarak, key figure in limiting political opposition, and a frequent contact for American officials on Middle East peace issues.

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