Talks with Chirac to deal with ways of pushing forward Palestinian cause
Egypt-Regional, Politics, 11/12/2001
On his way back home after two successful visits to the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, President Mubarak said the US administration was fully satisfied with Egyptian role in combating terrorism, the president said Egypt supports war against terrorism by all means adding that Egypt in its moves is motivated by the interests of the people.
The President said all know that Egypt is not prepared to fight any Arab or Islamic country, given the fact that Egypt has never has any links with Taliban movement in the past.
The President said expanding war in Afghanistan to include any country in the region would deepen hatred to the US policy.
Moreover, he said, peoples will not accept any attacks against their lands.
Asked whether he expects new military strikes against Arab countries after the end of war in Afghanistan, the President said he did not expect any strikes against Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Somalia as reports say.
The President wondered whom do they attempt to strike in Yemen? What are the targets they would attack?
'I know that Yemen terrain is difficult like Afghanistan,' he said.
President Mubarak said that it is important to go beyond statements, initiatives and ideas about realizing peace in the Middle East and move towards a known goal according to an integrated plan and practical steps forward.
In statements to Editors-in-Chief of Egyptian newspapers and the Editor-in-Chief of Middle East News Agency (MENA) on the flight from Abu Dhabi to Kuwait Sunday, President Mubarak said that the issue is serious and no longer allows for mere ideas and words.
'What is required now, and with all seriousness, are definite, clear and frank ideas to stop violence and move to negotiations, 'the President said.
President Mubarak called on the Egyptian people to change their practices and stop over spending in conditions of world recession and the international economic crisis that grips the entire world at present, Egypt has been affected by a large part of it.
'It is illogical that some Egyptian citizens spend their summer vacations abroad and contribute to solving the problems of unemployment of others, while labor problems continue to exist in our country,' the President said.
President Mubarak said French President Jacques Chirac whom the president will meet in Cairo Monday will offer new ideas and new impressions particularly he has just returned from Washington after meeting with US President George Bush.
Following is the text of President Mubarak's statements:
Asked on the goals of his visit to Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, President Mubarak said:
Consultations between our brothers and me continue and do not stop particularly when major events take place and in delicate circumstances.
Moreover, the relationship with my brother Sheikh Zayed is strong. We are both keen to continue consultations and exchange of views and hold periodical meetings. And also with our brothers in Kuwait, his highness the Crown prince and brothers.
President Mubarak added: As you know from your follow-up of events, we have not stopped to meet with and contact all world leaders, almost on a daily basis, in the present delicate and critical circumstances
President Mubarak was asked whether he believed that the military campaign in Afghanistan was nearing its end.
The President said: In my estimation, the military campaign (against Afghanistan concentrated and aimed, in the past period, on cutting off all means of communication and contact between the Taliban government and the main elements of AL Qa'eda organization in Afghanistan to stop arms, ammunition and supplies.
Asked on the media campaign in American newspapers against Egypt and Saudi Arabia and attempts to distort the Egyptian attitude, President Mubarak said: I do not care much about these campaigns particularly as I know their source and who stands behind them.
These campaigns have no basis of truth. Their aim is to distort and spread lies.
Egypt's attitude are known and clear, President Mubarak said. He added: our attitude towards terrorism needs no explanation. We were the first to suffer from terrorism.
I wish to stress that our relations with the US administration are excellent. There is complete understanding between us. We do not care about those who attempt to cloud these relations for known aims and from sources that are not unknown to anyone.
In substance, the (press) campaign is open blackmail. The aim is keep us away from the Palestinians and stop our support to the Palestinian right.
Those who wage the (press) campaign and those who stand behind them should know that we represent peoples who have issues and who have their concerns.
We should truly express the feelings of our peoples, their separations and their pains.
We should respect their feelings and defend their issues.
Question: There has been much talk about initiatives and ideas to solve the Palestinian issue. How far are these reports true?
President Mubarak: In fact, there is much talk on initiatives about to appear on the horizon. There are statements about plans to solve the Palestinian issue. It is noted that some make statements and present ideas. They take a step forward and then stop.
The important thing is that, whatever are these initiatives, they will be fruitless unless there is a sincere intention and a real will on the part of Israel and a clear vision of peace.
Without this, initiatives may result in nothing.
Question: Do you expect that an international conference will be held to discuss combating terrorism as you have called and that it will meet immediately after the military campaign (against Afghanistan)?
President Mubarak: With all frankness, I say that what hindered holding the conference since I called for it 15 years ago, was a difference on the definition of terrorism.
Some want to mix the cards and equate between terrorists who kill and destroy and those who struggle to liberate their land from occupation.
This is not permissible and not correct.
Let me tell you that the world is now preoccupied with dealing with the events of September 11 and what follows military action to deal with the situation.
I believe that when matters settle down, there will be sufficient time to make discussions, research and preparation for an international conference to combat terrorism.
President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday that he is due to introduce some reshuffle in the set-up of the economic group.
President Mubarak explained that there were some ideas under consideration, including canceling the portfolio of the Ministry of Economy and merging it into the Ministry of Foreign Trade since many of the world countries did not have a Ministry of Economy.
President Mubarak in his statements added that he would keep the Ministry of Supply and Foreign Trade.
'Also these ideas include enhancing the role and status of the Central Bank of Egypt where the CBE governor would not get instructions from any ministry. Rather he would get his instructions from the Prime Minister directly,' said President Mubarak.
The President added that proposed measures also included settling issues related to local and foreign investments where the President himself would lead the higher committee for investment and take direct and immediate decisions on this score.
The measure is aimed at putting an end to red tape that hampers investment, President Mubarak explained.
Question: In continuation of talk about initiatives, does President Chirac, whom you will receive (Monday), carry new ideas of European initiatives, particularly that not a long time has passed since you last met?
President Mubarak: Consultations between President Chirac and me continue, whether through direct contact or by telephone.
We always exchange views and ideas.
As regards Monday's meeting, there is no doubt that there is something new which President Chirac carries.
He has just returned from Washington where he met with U.S. President Bush.
He must returned from Washington where he met with US President Bush carrying new ideas and new impressions which he should like that we review and discuss and make an evaluation of developments as regards the situation in connection with terrorism and in connection with the Palestine issue.
I wish to add that France and President Chirac have ideas to deal with the issue of Afghanistan and what is related to it.
President Mubarak: Let me, once again, return to the subject of ideas and initiatives about the Palestine issue and the return of peace in the Middle East.
The issue is serious and important and no longer allows for mere words or ideas or talk about initiatives.
What is required now, and with all seriousness, are definite, clear and frank ideas.
I mean that what is required are ideas, steps and a plan of action showing how to stop violence and move to the negotiating table to discuss a final solution.
President Mubarak: It is regrettable and strange that they are asking Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to stop violence at a time when they (the Israelis) continue to kill and arrest security men of the Palestinian authority. Is this logical?
Is it logical that strikes, destruction and killing continue against the Palestinian people and (Palestinian) security men are arrested and then the, (Israelis) ask the Palestine authority to stop violence?
Question: To what extent has the world responded to your call that the solution of the Palestine issue is an important factor in uprooting terrorism?
President Mubarak :I am fully convinced that the solution of the Palestine issue on a just basis and giving the Palestinian people their right to have an independent state would remove many of the causes of violence and remove the motives from which new generations of terrorists are born.
I can say, with full confidence that the world has begun to listen to this view and think seriously.
The thing that is certain is that no one will overlook injustice to which he, and all, is subjected.
I have previously warned against the danger of terrorism and pointed out the danger of letting terrorists move freely and grant them asylum in spite of the fact that court sentences had been passed against them.
I have previously asked for the extradition of those convicted for crimes they had committed in Egypt. There was no response at the time.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told me recently that what had stood in the way of handing over terrorists in the past was over. He told me that they began to change their laws after September 11.
Question: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon talks about a Palestine state and his willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians. Could this be considered a change in his attitude?
President Mubarak: Europe is fully convinced that it is necessary to reach a just solution for the Palestinian cause.
So is the United States, this became clear when U.S. President Bush, and a number of European leaders, spoke about the right of the Palestinians to set up their independent state.
This means that all are convinced that the situation in (Palestinian) occupied territories is serious.
They are aware of the seriousness of what the Israeli government is doing by resorting to excessive use of force.
President Mubarak: The policy followed by the Israeli government is dangerous.
The American Jewish lobby should understand this well. .
The approach adopted by Sharon is dangerous. He should give it up. I met in Cairo recently with a delegation representing what is called the Israeli peace forum in the United States.
I explained to them the dangers posed by the Israeli policy.
I pointed out that this (Israeli) policy and practices do harm to Jews everywhere. It threatens the security of Israel itself and pushes the other parties who are subjected to aggression to resort to dangerous methods.
As regards the internal situation and difficulties faced by Egyptian economy, President Mubarak said:
There is actually an economic crisis. It. has aggravated following the September 11 events and following the recession that hit world economy.
I am fully convinced that dealing with this crisis in Egypt should take place through participation between the people and government.
I wish to make it clear here that we are following a sound line. We move our economy in a correct direction.
President Mubarak: But we should always remember the recession through which the world is passing as I have just mentioned.
This dictates on us all that we should change our behaviors. This dictates on each one of us to make a serious contribution.
We have to economize and save. We have to stop all aspects extravagance and abstain from excess in our customs. We have to change our way of thinking.
The President asked: Is it logical that some of us perform the minor pilgrimage again and again in these difficult circumstances?
Is it logical that some of Egyptians go abroad to spend the summer vacation and leave behind our factories, hotel and tourist establishments and their employees become unemployed?
Going abroad to spend the summer and vacations means that we contribute to solving the unemployment problems and economic crisis of others. It means that we want unemployment at home and help in making the economic crisis bigger in our country and do not move towards the right solution and on the right course.
President Hosni Mubarak, within the context of explaining the economic situation, has warned against the danger of expanding BOT projects.
The President said that the burdens shouldered by Egypt as a result of launching projects under the BOT system are big.
He explained that after a while, the profits occurring from these projects are transferred abroad in hard currency.
This means that our resources of foreign currency are taken abroad.
'We have laid down guidelines and solutions to accept such projects on condition that half of the profits are invested inside Egypt and on condition that 50 per cent of the products of productive projects are sent abroad on this basis,' the President said.
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