(Reuters) U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday he had urged Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to hold elections and quit as army chief in a "frank discussion" with an ally fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban.
It was the first time Bush has spoken directly to Musharraf since the leader of nuclear-armed Pakistan declared a state of emergency on Saturday.
Bush's intervention came as former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto threatened to lead a mass protest to the capital unless Musharraf gives up his military post, holds elections and restores the constitution.
Bhutto, leader of the largest opposition party and the politician most capable of mobilising street power, gave Musharraf until Friday to comply.
The United States had hoped Bhutto would share power with Musharraf after elections due in January, but Musharraf's calling of the emergency brought disarray to U.S. policy.
"My message was that we believe strongly in elections and that you ought to have elections soon and you need to take off your uniform. You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," Bush told a news conference.
"I had a very frank discussion with him," Bush said.
Pakistan government officials have said January elections will be held on time. A member of Musharraf's inner circle said emergency rule was likely to be lifted within 2 or 3 weeks.