The Foreign Secretary William Hague today urged Egypt to move towards political reform to quell growing anger that has led to street protests and violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
Thousands of Egyptians have vented their rage against President Hosni Mubarak's autocratic government over two days of protests that defied a ban on public gatherings.
Baton-wielding police responded with tear gas and beatings in a crackdown that has shown no tolerance for dissent.
Egypt's largest anti-government protests in years echo the recent uprising in Tunisia.
Mr Hague said it was not for other countries to dictate who should be in power, or what their tactics should be, but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Clearly, in so many of these countries people do have legitimate grievances, which are economic and political.
"While every country is different, and we shouldn't try to dictate what they should do, in general I do think it's important in this situation to respond positively to legitimate demands for reform, to move towards openness, transparency and greater political freedom.
"That would be my advice to Egyptian leaders."
The Egyptian government is reported to have shut down social networking sites in a bid to stop the unrest spreading, and Mr Hague said: "I would urge the Egyptian government, and I have urged the Egyptian government, to respect rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
"It would be futile over time to try to suppress such things."Reuse content