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Obama: The people of Egypt have spoken

From NBC's Athena Jones
Marking the historic end to the three-decade long presidency of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, President Obama said Egyptians had inspired the world by their peaceful protests for their universal rights.

Obama made the remarks after huddling in the White House Situation Room with his national security team. The president had dropped by a previously scheduled Principals Committee meeting convened by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to discuss current developments in the country, according to a spokesman.

The news of Mubarak's resignation came a day after the White House and the world had expected the leader to step down. Yesterday in Michigan, Obama had called what was happening in Egypt a "moment of transformation." Today he expanded on those sentiments.

"There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place," he said during brief remarks in the Grand Foyer of the White House. "This is one of those moments; this is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same."

Obama said Egypt had played "a pivotal role in human history" for more than 6,000 years and that young Egyptians had shown the world what can be achieved through non-violent protest, a clear message to extremists.

"This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied," he said. "Egyptians have inspired us and they've done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt it was the moral force of non violence -- not terrorism, not mindless killing, but non violence. Moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more."

The president ended by comparing the events in Egypt to the fall of the Berlin Wall and quoted Martin Luther King, saying that Egypt reminds us, "There's something in the soul that cries out for freedom."