BBC News with David Austin
We can go straight to Egypt now, where following weeks of anti-government protests, President Hosni Mubarak has been making a national address on state television. Mr Mubarak said he would continue to do his duty under the constitution until power was transferred to whoever won free and fair elections in September. He would seek to meet the demands of the protesters in a way that respected the constitution and ensure stability. Here's part of what he had to say translated by an interpreter.
"I put forward this vision, committed to my responsibility to get the country out of this very difficult situation, and I will carry on to win it, first one after the other, hour after the other, and looking forward for the support and the assistance of everyone who is eager for Egypt's safety and stability."
Our correspondent in Cairo Christian Fraser joins us now. He is still speaking, Christian, but what do you make of President Mubarak's remarks so far?
Well, I think it's certain that this is not what the people in Tahrir Square were expecting to see. It had been widely reported here and abroad today that President Mubarak would be making this speech and stepping aside for someone else to take control of the country, but instead, he's reaffirmed his commitment to carry on doing his responsibility, as he said, until a transfer of power is possible next September. He's expressed his plans to get out of the crisis, the economic crisis, and to implement the demands of the people. "We will do it with frankness and transparency," he said. And he praised the dialogue that has already taken place. He's set out a plan to go forward. There will be constitutional amendments, ad hoc legislative changes, he said, but it's certainly not what the people were expecting, and it remains to be seen tomorrow, Friday, the day of prayer, what they make of what they've seen from their president.
Christian Fraser in Cairo, thank you very much for that.
Don't forget you can get the very latest on the events in Egypt on our website. We've live updates at bbcnews.com.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square in expectation of hearing from President Mubarak after 17 days pressing for his resignation. The atmosphere was euphoric after an Egyptian army commander told protesters that all their demands would be met. But some are said to be concerned that the army could try to take power. Magdi Abdelhadi reports from Tahrir Square.
There's a huge crowd here. It's packed. The square is packed. Sometimes it's so difficult to move from one spot to the other. People dancing, chanting, they are happy. Clearly the people are delighted. They feel that they have had their way even if the army were to assume power. Some people here think the army is much better than Mubarak, but there are those who of course are worried that the army might mean military rule, so they've asked for democracy and said what the...instead of democracy they got a military rule.
World News from the BBC
MPs in Britain have voted by a margin of more than 10-1 in favour of keeping a complete ban on prisoners voting in elections. The result is seen as a rebuff to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled six years ago the ban was illegal. The Attorney General Dominic Grieve said there would have to be a lengthy dialogue between the government and the European Court. The vote is not binding.
The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, says his government will set up a $1.2bn fund to create jobs in a country where more than one in five people are unemployed. In his annual state of the nation address, Mr Zuma said he was concerned that unemployment and poverty persisted despite 10 years of economic growth.
"While looking to the private sector in particular to help us create most of the jobs, government will certainly play its part. We are pleased to announce the establishment of a jobs fund of nine billion rand over the next three years to finance new job creation initiatives."
India and Pakistan have agreed to resume peace talks suspended since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, which India blamed on militants from Pakistan. In a joint statement, the nuclear-armed neighbours said they'd agreed to resume dialogue on all issues including the disputed region of Kashmir. They said Pakistan's foreign minister would visit India by July to review progress. A BBC correspondent in Delhi says mistrust between India and Pakistan remains huge.
And returning to our main story, we've just heard that Mr Mubarak said he would be transferring some of his powers to the vice president. That's our main news at the moment. President Mubarak has said he'll continue to do his duty under the constitution until power is transferred after elections in September.
More news on our website of course that's at bbc.com/news