|ElBaradei, centre, has offered to lead the transition once Mubarak quits [AFP]
Margaret Scobey, the US ambassador to Egypt, has spoken to Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, according to the US state department.
ElBaradei, a former head of the UN nuclear watchdog turned democracy advocate, returned to Egypt last week and has offered to act as a transitional leader to prepare Egypt for democratic elections amid mounting protests against President Hosni Mubarak.
"As part of our public outreach to convey support for an orderly transition in Egypt, Ambassador Scobey spoke today with Mohammed ElBaradei," PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesman, said in a message on Twitter on Tuesday.
The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is being closely watched by Washington since Mubarak has been a strategic US ally. Analysts say Washington also wields considerable influence over Cairo since Egypt receives $1.5bn in military aid annually from the US.
ElBaradei, 68, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work at the International Atomic Energy Agency, has participated in the recent protests but analysts say he has limited public appeal in the country due to his long absences from the country.
On Monday, Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, was sent to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, by the US state department to assess the turbulent situation and meet with Mubarak.
Al Jazeera's John Terret, reporting from Washington DC, said Wisner "is known to be a personal friend of president Mubarak".
"President Mubarak has promised to bring change to Egypt, so the Obama administration wants to see that change implemented quickly and for an orderly transition to democracy to take place."
Yasser El-Shimy, former US diplomatic attaché, told Al Jazeera that Washington was seeking to prepare for a post-Mubarak scenario.
"Washington has failed to anticipate what happened, and they have failed to respond in a timely fashion of what is going on.
"I think that what people are expecting now from Washington now is a clear declaration from president [Barack] Obama that he stands with the revolution in Egypt. The Turkish and the Iranian statements that has come today should not have come before Washington, this should be sending alarming signals to the White House.
"They are trying to find a way to fill any vacuums that might be created once Mubarak leaves the country, they [Washington] are trying to see if ElBaradei can fill that hole."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies