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.
The Prime Minister diverted the start of a planned tour of the Gulf region to hold talks with the military leadership in a bid to help ensure a "genuine transition" to civilian rule.
And as a wave of protests continued in other countries, he condemned the "completely appalling" violent repression carried out by the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi which has reportedly left upwards of 200 dead and many more injured.
Speaking on the flight to Cairo, Mr Cameron 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."
Mr Cameron's first meeting was with the head of the Egyptian armed forces supreme council, defence minister Mohamed Tantawi,
He told the military leader: "We are very keen to be helpful in terms of the transition your country is going to be making. The most important thing for us is to hear how we can help this transition be successful.
"As old friends of the Egyptian people, we come not to tell you how to do things but to ask how we can help you do what we know you want to do."
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.
Cairo was added at the 11th hour to the itinerary of a long-planned trade-centred tour of the Gulf region, following the revolution and a wave of similar uprisings in other countries.