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Notes from the February 6, 2011 broadcast of Meet The Press

February 6, 2011

Today’s broadcast was live from the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. And it began with a report from NBC’s Richard Engel in Cairo on big movement in negotiations there between the government and the opposition.

The first guest, live via satellite, was Egyptian opposition leader (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mohammed ElBaradei. He said he was not part of the negotiations, and there is a real lack of confidence between the government and the opposition leaders. He suggests a three-person transitional presidency (with one of the three being a military leader) is the way to get from now to the September elections. ElBaradei is worried that the new concessions being announced don’t include the right to form political parties.

When asked if Hosni Mubarak has to go, ElBaradei called this “an obsession” with too many people. He even said Mubarak could stay in Egypt with respect as a former president.

When asked about the future status of Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel, ElBaradei seemed to fudge too much. He eventually said the agreement was “rock solid,” but added that all Arabs want to see an independent Palestinian state.

Next up was the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry. David Gregory pressed him on whether or not this is a “revolution” in Egypt. Shoukry would only agree that “things as they were are over” in Egypt. But he does not see a path for Mubarak to leave office early.

Gregory asked him if the government’s effort to put thugs and violence on the streets against the protestors backfired. Shoukry says the government was not responsible for this and is investigating to find out who did it. (Maybe like O.J. continuing to look for the real killer?)

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was next. He said that today’s news of concessions and what we just heard from ElBaradei was encouraging.

Gregory played the clip of US Ambassador Frank Wisner from a few days ago saying that it was OK for Mubarak to stay in power. Kerry reiterated that Wisner was speaking only for himself and the US government has been very clear that the transition must begin now. Kerry added, however, that just having elections is not enough to bring real change, so we have to do this right.

Then Kerry showed a clip from the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen on The Daily Show who said events in Egypt have taken many by surprise. Kerry said the pent up demand and the need for reform was no surprise. But the manner and the moment of the eruption was unpredictable.

The last half of the broadcast was a roundtable about the Reagan Centennial… former President Reagan was born one hundred years ago today. It was very interesting to see the inside of the museum. Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan gave David a tour, which includes the actual jacket, with bullet hole, Reagan was wearing the day he was shot. Gregory says a longer version of the tour is available on the MTP website.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

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