U.S. sees debate within Mubarak inner circle

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 2, 2011 2:27pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States believes Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's inner circle is debating whether he needs to do more to meet the demands of protesters seeking his ouster, an Obama administration official said on Wednesday.

The senior official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak forces could convince the Egyptian military that it needs to pressure Mubarak to take additional steps.

Mubarak said on Tuesday he would not run for re-election, a major concession for a man who has ruled Egypt for 30 years and has been a cornerstone of U.S. strategy in the Middle East. But that did not satisfy demonstrators who want him out now.

"We think there are debates going on within President Mubarak's inner circle on that question -- or on that reality -- that they have moved but they haven't moved far enough or fast enough," said the senior U.S. official.

"The violence on the streets, and the difficult position it puts the army in, could very well convince the army that something more has to be done and it could apply its own pressure on President Mubarak," the official added.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Doina Chiacu)

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