Egypt forecast based on press - CIA

2011-02-10 18:57

Washington - CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would likely step down on Thursday, but officials later clarified that he had been referring to media reports.

Asked about reports that the Egyptian leader was about to relinquish power, Panetta said: "I got the same information you did, that there's a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening (on Thursday)."

But a US official later told AFP that "the director was referring to press reports."

At a hearing of the House intelligence committee, Panetta said that if Mubarak did leave office it "would be significant in terms of where the hopefully orderly transition in Egypt takes place."

The director of US intelligence, James Clapper, said earlier that popular unrest in Egypt would have a "long-lasting impact" on North Africa and the Middle East.