February 1, 2011 / 5:01 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. ambassador talks to Egypt's ElBaradei

Egyptian reformed campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei talks to journalists outside Cairo's airport, January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey has spoken to Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, the State Department said on Tuesday in its first acknowledgment of any recent direct contact with the opposition figure.

“As part of our public outreach to convey support for an orderly transition in Egypt, Ambassador Scobey spoke today with Mohammed ElBaradei,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a message on Twitter.

ElBaradei, a former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, returned to Egypt last week and has offered to act as a transitional leader to prepare Egypt for democratic elections amid mounting protests against President Hosni Mubarak.

ElBaradei, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work at the International Atomic Energy Agency, has participated in the recent protests but analysts say he has limited public appeal in the country due to his long absences overseas.

On Monday, Crowley suggested the United States had not had any recent dealings with the 68-year-old ElBaradei. “I don’t believe that we’ve had any contact with Mr. ElBaradei in recent days,” he said in his daily briefing.

Reporting by Andrew Quinn; editing by Doina Chiacu

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