US President Barack Obama voiced support for an ‘orderly transition’ in Egypt that is responsive to the aspirations of Egyptians in phone calls with foreign leaders, the White House said.

Mr Obama spoke by phone with Saudi King Abdullah, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday and to British Prime Minister David Cameron today.

President Hosni Mubarak, clinging on despite unprecedented demands for an end to his 30-year rule, met with the military which is seen as holding the key to Egypt's future while in Cairo, protesters defied a curfew.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States wanted an ‘orderly transition’ through free and fair elections in its key ally and the Arab world's most populous nation.

Growing unrest is shaking Mr Mubarak's authoritarian grip on Egypt and the high command's support is vital as other pillars of his ruling apparatus crumble, political analysts said as protests ran on through a sixth day.

As thousands gathered in the streets the fragmented opposition gave a sign of coming together.

Nobel peace laureate and retired international diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei said he had been given a mandate to reach out to the army and build a new government.

Mr ElBaradei told thousands of protesters in central Cairo today that an uprising against Mubarak's rule 'cannot go back'.

Earlier, he said he had been given a mandate to make contact with the army and build a new government in Egypt.

'I bow to the people of Egypt in respect. I ask of you patience, change is coming in the next few days,' he said.

'You have taken back your rights and what we have begun cannot go back,' he said as crowds chanted 'Down with Mubarak'.

'We have one main demand - the end of the regime and the beginning of a new stage, a new Egypt.'

As the curfew started and was ignored, warplanes and helicopters flew over the square. By late afternoon more army trucks appeared in a show of military force but no one moved.

Mr Mubarak held talks with Omar Suleiman, Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami al-Anan and others.

A senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Islamist group that has long seemed the strongest single force against Mubarak, said it backed ElBaradei as negotiator.

The Muslim Brotherhood has stayed in the background although several of its senior officials have been rounded up. The government has accused it of planning to exploit the protests.

The turmoil, in which more than 100 people have died, has sent shock waves through the Middle East and unsettled financial markets around the globe as well as Egypt's allies in the West.
The crisis deepened today with Egyptians facing lawlessness on the streets with security forces and citizens trying to stop rampaging looters.

Army tanks and tracked vehicles stood at the capital's street corners, guarding banks as well as government offices including Interior Ministry headquarters.

The tumult was affecting Egypt's tourist industry and the United States and Turkey said they were offering evacuation flights for citizens anxious to leave.

Department advises against travel to Egypt

The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised against all travel to Egypt at this time.

There are problems with telephone communications to the landline at the Irish Embassy in Cairo, which is trying to make contact with Irish citizens resident in Egypt.

Any citizen who has not been reached should contact the Embassy Duty officer or the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin to notify of their whereabouts and to provide contact details.

People in Egypt may contact the Embassy Duty Officer on mobile number +20 174443942.

People in Ireland who are concerned about the situation may contact the Department of Foreign Affairs on 01-4082999 from 8am until 10pm or on 01-4780822 outside these hours.

Other governments started arranging for planes to bring home citizens stuck in Egypt.

The United States and Turkey offered to evacuate citizens wanting to leave and major airlines including Lufthansa and Air India said they would send additional planes to Cairo and Alexandria.

The Greek foreign ministry said at least two Greek military aircraft were on standby.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dispatched his presidential plane to Egypt to pick up Iraqi citizens, and the transport ministry ordered free transportation for Iraqis living in Egypt on Iraqi Airways planes, a ministry spokesman said.

Some European companies started evacuating their staff, and witnesses reported scenes of chaos at Cairo Airport, as people, including Egyptians, tried to catch a decreasing number of operational flights.

The Japanese government was preparing to use chartered planes to fly out 600 Japanese national stranded in or around Cairo, Kyodo news agency reported.