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US media reacted with cautious optimism Saturday to events in Egypt, where strongman Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 30 years, handing power to the military.
"Egypt's march toward political freedom is only beginning, and we can expect more drama and disagreement as it unfolds," The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial.
"But this new Egypt is the best opportunity since 9/11 to change the sclerotic Arab world, and it ought to be seized by Egyptians and their friends," the newspaper argued.
The Journal noted that while the United States and Europe could not dictate events in Egypt, they could influence its transition.
It cited Washington's close ties with the military -- and the ê1.5 billion in yearly aid it gave Egypt's army.
"Another carrot to Egypt's next leaders would be a free trade agreement and open access to the US and EU markets for its goods as democracy advances."
The Los Angeles Times called the events in Cairo's Tahrir Square "astonishing."
"The protest's timing may have been affected by the uprising in Tunisia, but it reflected long-festering discontent with Egypt's sterile and corrupt political order, its thuggish police force and its lack of opportunity for educated young people," the paper said.
"Not since the fall of the Berlin Wall has there been such a dramatic testimony to the desire for personal freedom," it added.
The Washington Post argued for the United States and other Western countries to press the Egypt's new military administration to move towards democracy.
"The process should be certain but not rushed, which means the current constitution probably must be set aside," the paper noted.
"US aims should include helping the centrist secular movements suppressed by Mr. Mubarak to fully organize themselves, assisting in the establishment of independent authorities to stage and monitor the elections, and encouraging the opening of the state media to all sides," it argued.
The New York Times said the United States and other democratic states must now be ready to press for "full democratic change" in Egypt.
"None of these will come easily, and some setbacks are certain," said the Times editorial. "But Egyptians have finally won a chance at creating a free and just society. We can think of no better rebuttal to Osama bin Laden and other extremists. The Egyptian protesters inspire us all. They will need all of our support."
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