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Egypt
President Hosni Mubarak
Interview with NBC (partially edited)
September 15, 2001

President Hosni Mubarak has called for an international conference to fight international terrorism and stressed that the battle against that phenomenon calls for the cooperation of all parties of the international community without the exception of one country or another.

In an interview with the American NBC television broadcast Saturday, President Mubarak said that there should be no haste in making accusation against certain parties and no accusation should be made against anyone now. "We should not jump to conclusions because jumping to conclusions and making reference to the Arabs "create extremely bad atmospheres".

Commenting on the explosions which took place in Washington and New York on Tuesday, President Mubarak said that those who committed the crime should be punished and retaliation should be based on very accurate calculations.

Egypt is against establishing coalitions. Replying to a question on the possibility of defeating terrorism, particularly that Egypt is one of the countries which suffered from this phenomenon, President Mubarak said: "We should cooperate with all countries without exception. Those who do not want to cooperate should be left aside, and at once.

President Mubarak said he was against the formation of a coalition of some countries and leaving others. This would create division and push countries outside the coalition to work against it.

The President explained that what he was calling for was to hold an international conference to take decisions which should be firmly carried out and warned that unless this is realised we shall not be able to live on earth as we should .

President Mubarak cautioned that war against terrorism will not take a day or a short while.

It is a long war which calls for the cooperation of the entire international community Asked about the telephone conversation he had with U President George Bush, President Mubarak said he expressed once again his condolences.

The President had sent a cable of condolences the day the attacks took place.

The President said that he discussed with President Bush measures which should be taken to fight terrorism.

President Mubarak asked President Bush to wait for results President Mubarak cited the arrest of some citizens from the United Arab Emirates and then it turned out that they were not from the Emirates. Suspicion pointed to people who receive instructions in flying in Florida. But many Arabs receive flying instructions.

They are arrested and their homes are searched and then they are released.

President Mubarak asked" Why do you accuse Muslims? Did al the Muslims commit those acts in the United States.

NBC News representative said that accusation was made against a certain faction of extremists and pointed out that the President himself was the target of terrorist acts in Addis Ababa. There were also terrorist act in Cairo.

President Mubarak said that he dealt with these acts asking for complete investigations and those found guilty should be referred to trial. "I do not take revenge myself. We have fair and independent judiciary."

CNN asked whether the United States will receive international backing, particularly from the Arab world, if it declared war on terrorism, even if it was proved that one of the perpetrators came from an Arab country?

President Mubarak said he did not want to give a judgment in advance of results. But there is not a whole country which supported terrorism or took part in it. Some countries has mountainous areas in which terrorists could hide and take shelter. The President did not want to name any country.

"When investigations are complete and it is proved that certain person has committed something for which he should be punished, we shall support the United States in any stern measures it takes against terrorism," the President said.

NBC News pointed out that intelligence and investigation authorities in the USA keep repeating a certain name, that of Bin Laden, who takes refuge in Afghanistan.

President Mubarak said that this was mere supposition and he did not want to accuse Bin Laden and asked: What will you do if it turns out that these acts were perpetrated by Americans? Let us wait and see. Do not make accusations at random against Arabs or Muslims.

The President was asked whether terrorism should be destroyed?

President Mubarak said that there was a big difference between war and terrorism. In war you know the goal and the two fighting parties and the mission which should be accomplished through war such as liberating land or occupying a position. Terrorism uses the world as a scene. You do not know from where it will come or what is its target. No one country in the world can provide protection for all its vital installations. Who could have imagined that airliners would be used, with its passengers, in terrorists acts.

NBC: the United States is seeking to mobilize an international coalition against terrorism similar to the coalition in the Gulf war. Would it be difficult to mobilize a coalition to fight and resist terrorism?

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: setting up a coalition would divide the ranks of the international community. No coalition can be established all over the world to fight terrorism. It is not practical, at least from my point of view. Perhaps US Secretary of State (Colin) Powell would have a different opinion.

I have said that setting up coalitions would divide the ranks of the international community. What I have repeatedly called for was to hold an international conference to fight terrorism under the umbrella of the United Nations, in New York, Geneva or anywhere else.

It was agreed but some countries, including the United States, used veto as a pretext gainst what it taking place between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The Palestinians say they are struggling for self-determination. The Israelis say something different and created a big problem. Hence, the idea was set aside.

But in the light of the recent events in the United States holding an international conference to fight terrorism has become an international necessity. No countries, or group of nations should be exempted. But to set up coalitions would divide the ranks of the international community in two or three fronts.

NBC: Are you ready to help the United States to track the perpetrators and inflict punishment on them?

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: I did not say no. We shall help the United States with all our ability. Punishing these people is a necessity.

NBC: Is what took place in the United States not connected with what is taking place between the Palestinians and Israelis or is it an extension of it?

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: It is one of the reasons. I do not say all the reasons, but one of the reasons.

I hope that the Israelis will not take this opportunity to create more troubles with the Palestinians and wage a campaign against them because this would only lead to more terrorism.

We do not wish to see the Israelis use this opportunity to kill Palestinians and demolish their homes. This would only lead to more hatred.

President Mubarak said that if his advice to hold an international conference to fight terrorism and issue decisive decisions is heeded, we would all live in peace.

NBC: What about countries which would refuse to abide by decisions taken by the conference?

The important thing is that firm decisions are issued and applied by all, big and small, no country to be an exception.

They should apply on all countries, exception. They should apply on all countries, even those which harbour terrorists and give them shelter.

These countries should be prevented from giving shelter to terrorists. Human rights should not be used as a pretext. Human rights should not be applied on those who commit terrorist acts.

NBC: can war be declared on terrorism?

PRESIDENT MUBARAK: War cannot be declared on terrorism. If they are 50 or 100 we cannot punish an entire innocent people.

If you do this you will be subjected to a sweeping wave of criticism and nobody will side with you.

Retaliation should be preceded by very accurate calculations. We should not say this is an Arab and this is a Muslim. The Americans began to mistreat Muslims and Arabs in their country.

This is a wrong message and would divide people into groups: This is Muslim and this is Arab. This is Asian and this is African. We should all cooperate. Coalition would split the ranks of the international community. The way to stop terrorism is to hold an international conference to fight terrorism and carry out its decisions with accuracy.

This is the only means to fight terrorism. Otherwise we shall not be able to live on our planet.

END