WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The United States encourages political reform in Egypt, but what happens in Egypt will be controlled by Egyptians, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.
Protests troubled Egypt for a third day as organizers called for demonstrations to honor those killed and arrested, officials said. Armored troop carriers rolled throughout downtown Cairo early Thursday, scattering groups of protesters who defied a government ban on public gatherings and demanded the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Protesters throwing stones at police were greeted with tear gas.
"We would like to see political reform in Egypt, as we've made clear for a number of years, and a broader opportunity for people to participate in the political process in Egypt," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said during a media briefing, adding later, "As a friend, we're offering our advice to Egypt, but what they do is up to them."
The return of Mohamed ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy Agency director general, to Egypt was "a matter for the Egyptian people," Crowley said, declining to say whether the U.S. government had an opinion about his return.
Protesters in Yemen also are calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in 2013, while demonstrations in Tunisia led to the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
The world is watching events unfold in the region and the dynamic in each country, Crowley said.
"You know, the solution in Tunisia is not the solution in Egypt. It's not the solution in Yemen," he said. "And yet because, you know, people are observing what's happening. They're reacting to what's happening. It is an important moment for these countries to find ways to respond."