British PM arrives in Cairo: embassy

"We can confirm that the prime minister has arrived," the official told AFP, declining "for security reasons" to disclose what his plans would be or who he would be seeing.

Cameron arrived in the Middle East against the backdrop of uprisings against long-established Arab regimes from the Gulf through North Africa.

Speaking en route to Cairo, Cameron said, "This is a great opportunity for us to go and talk to those currently running Egypt to make sure this really is a genuine transition from military rule to civilian rule and see what friendly countries like Britain and others in Europe can do to help.

"I am particularly keen... to get to Egypt and to be one of the first people there," he told British journalists travelling with him.

The lifting of Egypt's draconian emergency laws -- in place throughout Mubarak's three decades in power, and enabling the authorities to detain anyone without charge or trial -- would be on his agenda, he added.

"What is so refreshing about what's been happening is that this is not an Islamist revolt," Cameron said.

"This is not extremists on the streets. This is people who want to have the sort of basic freedoms that we take for granted in the United Kingdom."

Asked about the ongoing unrest in Libya, Cameron said: "I think we have been extremely consistent in saying that the response to the aspirations that people are showing on the streets of these countries must be one of reform, not repression."

He added: "We can see what is happening in Libya, which is completely appalling and unacceptable, as the regime is using the most vicious forms of repression against people who want to see that country -- which is one of the most closed and one of the most autocratic -- make progress."


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