David Cameron has flown into Cairo in the first visit by a world leader to Egypt since a popular uprising forced president Hosni Mubarak out of office 10 days ago.
A news blackout was lifted as the British prime minister landed in the Egyptian capital for a five-hour stopover hastily added to a planned tour of the Gulf, in a bid to help ensure a "genuine transition" to civilian rule.
Cameron condemned the "completely appalling" violent response of the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi to protests in Tripoli, Benghazi and elsewhere, which has reportedly left up to of 300 dead.
Speaking on the flight to Cairo, Cameron reportedly 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 about being able to get to Egypt and to be one of the first people there."
The prime minister is due to hold talks with the head of Armed Forces Supreme Council, Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.
Part of Cameron's agenda will be a call for the lifting of emergency laws which have been in place for more than three decades. However, he also made clear soon after arriving in Downing Street last year that promoting British trade would be a top foreign policy priority.
Meetings with a number of figures from the anti-Mubarak opposition movement have also been arranged, although they will not include representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood — the banned Islamic group which is thought to have widespread public support.
Meanwhile, some of the young activists who launched the Egyptian uprising that toppled Mubarak expressed skepticism Monday about the military's pledges to hand over power to a democratically elected government.
According to The Associated Press, the seven activists — representatives of a broad coalition of youth groups — warned Western diplomats in Cairo that the remnants of Mubarak's regime that still hold positions of power could overturn the gains of weeks of protest.
They also called on the international community to support Egypt's transition toward democracy, and asked for help in tracking down Mubarak's assets — rumored to be in the billions of dollars.