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Tuesday
Jul022013

George W. Bush 'Hopeful' for Democracy Despite Egypt's Protests

ABC News(DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania) -- Former President George W. Bush Tuesday called the massive protests playing out in the streets of Egypt an "evolution" in the country's march toward mature democracy.

"Democracies take a while to take root," Bush said in an interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl in Tanzania. "I mean, look at our own country. Took a hundred years to get rid of slavery. Democracy requires a patient hand. Democracy requires the building of civil society."

Egypt has been roiled by unrest as tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Cairo calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi, whom they blame for not dealing with the country's economic problems since taking office last year.

Morsi has rejected an ultimatum by the Egyptian military demanding that he meet the demands of the people within 48 hours.

Bush said he and first lady Laura Bush have been working to train Egyptian women, whom they believe will lead the movement toward democracy.

"I believe democracy will ultimately take hold," Bush said. "And I hope that people who live in comfortable nations are helping some of these young Egyptians understand how to build political parties and understand how to claim their rightful place in the political process."

He said the protests and tumult is only a symptom of Egypt's progress.

"They had been snuffed out of the political process, and all of a sudden they've been now given a chance," Bush said. "And I find it instructive that the current leaders campaigned on a platform, and now the Egyptian people are trying to hold them to account."

Bush sat for an interview while in Tanzania just hours after he and President Obama had come together for a rare, and largely coincidental, meeting of two presidents on foreign soil Tuesday to jointly lay a wreath in honor of those killed in an al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania in 1998.

The two presidents had nothing but praise for each other, but there was no policy talk, Bush said.

"We just chatted about his trip. He's at the end of the trip. I remember how tired I used to get, and I said, 'You've got to be kind of worn out.' He said, well, he's had a great trip, looking forward to getting back home," Bush said. "And I asked him about his little girls; were they having a good time? He said, 'You bet.'"

"Because I remember bringing our daughters on some of these trips, and how meaningful it was to be with them," he said. "But we didn't ... sit around and hash out policy."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio