PARIS, January 29, 2011 (AFP) - World leaders voiced mounting fears Saturday as the death toll rose from protests in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak, calling for restraint on both sides and urging Cairo to heed cries for reform.
European Union head Herman Van Rompuy said he was "deeply troubled by the spiral of violence leading to a situation which makes dialogue even more difficult."
"The respect for fundamental human rights... as well as social inclusion are constituent elements of democracy which the Egyptian people, and in particular the young, are striving for," he said.
"History has shown that dialogue can also lead to change if a conducive environment is built, without the use of force or a military crackdown."
Van Rompuy called for an end to violence, the release of all those arrested or under house arrest for political reasons and the launch of necessary reforms.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "We remain deeply concerned about the level of violence we have witnessed over the past few days."
"We call on the government to exercise restraint and on the Egyptian people to pursue their legitimate grievances peacefully.
"President Mubarak spoke last night of his commitment to take new steps towards greater democracy and freedom for the citizens. We call on him now to listen urgently to the aspirations expressed by the Egyptian people.
"He must seize this moment to make these reforms real and visible and to base them on the universal values that are the right of people in all countries.
"We are working with our EU partners and other allies on the latest developments to deliver a clear coordinated message about our expectations of President Mubarak and in particular the need for him to take responsibility to deliver change," Hague added.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told journalists: "What we are saying to the Egyptian government is that it must listen to the demands."
"The violence must stop, dialogue must start and there must be signs that the reforms that President Mubarak has promised are begun," he said.
"The people must have hope of progressing on the path of democracy and freedom," Fillon added.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan also urged Egyptian authorities to quickly start listening to the demands of the people in order to calm popular unrest.
"Currently the society of Egypt is in an unstable situation and President Mubarak has announced his intention to reform.
"I hope the government will start dialogue with many people immediately to get the full support and participation of the people and hope it can immediately restore political stability and peaceful civil life in Egypt," Kan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
US President Barack Obama urged Mubarak late Friday not to use violence and to take "concrete" steps towards political reforms, saying he must turn "a moment of volatility" into "a moment of promise."
His 30-minute phone call came after Washington warned that aid to Egypt worth two billion dollars was at stake.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Cairo counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit that "the Egyptian leadership and all of society (should) display a high degree of national responsibility and do everything necessary to stabilise the situation and guarantee civil peace," a statement from his ministry said.
African Union Commission head Jean Ping said on the eve of a summit of the pan-African body in Addis Ababa that the situation in Egypt in the wake of the overthrow of Tunisia's president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was "worrying."
Elsewhere in the Arab world Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah expressed his support for Mubarak and slammed those "tampering with Egypt's security and stability... in the name of freedom of expression," Riyadh's state news agency SPA said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas also telephoned Mubarak "and affirmed his solidarity with Egypt and his commitment to its security and stability," his office said.