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World leaders watch as events unfold in Egypt

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Protesters: Mubarak's move not enough
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Israeli defense minister: "It's up to the Egyptian people to find their way"
  • President Mubarak said he "will follow the track of peaceful transition until September"
  • Israeli official described Mubarak as "very strong and defiant" prior to his speech
  • Saudis offered Mubarak a place to live but have advised him not to leave, a diplomat says

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Government leaders around the world watched events unfold in Egypt Thursday after embattled President Hosni Mubarak said he "will follow the track of peaceful transition until September," disappointing throngs of protesters who have called for his immediate resignation.

CIA Director Leon Panetta told the U.S. Congress earlier Thursday that there was a "strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening," an assertion that Egyptian Information Minister Anas el-Fekky flatly denied.

Demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square at first appeared jubilant at reports that Mubarak would announce during a televised address that he would step down from power, but later chanted "Get out! Get out!" when the Egyptian president offered no such resignation.

Meanwhile, leaders throughout the region looked on in an effort formulate diplomacy in the ever-changing political arena.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he does not think he should respond to the speech.

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"I think we should not pretend that we are more important for the Egyptian people than their own interests," Barak told reporters at the United Nations in New York. "It's up to the Egyptian people to find their way and to do it according to their own constitution, norms and practices."

Knesset member Benjamin Ben Eliezer -- who said he spoke with the Egyptian president by phone on Thursday before his speech -- described Mubarak as "different from what I heard on the news."

"He sounded very strong and defiant," Eliezer said. "He analyzed the situation properly and tried to predict the future of the Middle East."

In Saudi Arabia, officials there have offered Mubarak a place to live, but have advised him not to leave, according to an Arab diplomatic source.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, "We want to see people of Egypt resolve their differences peacefully themselves -- as a sovereign nation."

"It is not for us to choose who leads Egypt," Hague said. "We want the people of Egypt to be allowed to choose."

Earlier Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he supports an "orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt."

"We are witnessing history unfold," Obama said.

If Mubarak eventually hands over power to a military council, the United States will have to determine legal and diplomatic arrangements for working with a new Egyptian military-led government, a senior U.S. official said.

The U.S. military does not work with governments that come to power by military coup, and while there is talk that Egypt will be led by some type of military consensus arrangement, this still poses challenges for the Pentagon, the official said.

CNN's Nic Robertson, Joe Vaccarello and Kevin Flower contributed to this report