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Egypt
President Hosni Mubarak
Interview on CNN's Larry King Live (edited)
September 18, 2001

President Hosni Mubarak has urged the United States not to initiate any retaliation for last week's attacks without obtaining conclusive evidence indicting the perpetrators of these vile assaults.

In an interview with the CNN's Larry King "Live Show" early yesterday, Mubarak said it was premature to form an international anti-terrorism alliance. "Terrorism should be fought by the entire world not a group of countries," he said.

The alliance, advocated by the US to avenge the killing of thousands of people in last Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Washington and New York, would divide the world in several groups, said Mubarak.

"There will be the alliance, a group opposing it and a third group taking neutral stance. These groups may end up fighting each other," he warned.

He renewed his call for an international UN-sponsored anti-terrorism conference. The conference, he said, should reach an international convention by which all world nations should abide.

He said that when Egypt was forced to take measures to combat a surge of terrorist attacks, it was criticised by some world countries, including the US, on basis of unfounded claims regarding human rights violations.

Mubarak told Larry King that when he first announced his initiative for an anti-terrorism conference, some countries said the call was a response to the terrorist attacks in Egypt.

"But this was not true. I repeatedly said that terrorism was more dangerous than war," said Mubarak.

He added that the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation might have contacts with Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, but stressed that the government was on full control of the situation.

"Our intelligence service is working seriously and we will not allow any of these elements to enter Egypt or carry out operations," he said.

The Egyptian leader also warned that the imminent US action against Afghanistan, where bin Laden is a 'guest' for the ruling Taliban movement, would mean that more innocent people would be killed.

He cautioned Washington against jumping to conclusions, adding that no action should be taken unless the US had tangible proof.

Mubarak said that during his telephone conversation with US President George W. Bush following the attack, the US President said he would exert more effort to bring peace to the Middle East.

"But the Israeli government is taking advantage of the situation and commits more provocations. This will lead to dangerous repercussions," he said. Mubarak also said that Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was completely against terrorism.

In another interview with the BBC late on Monday, Mubarak appealed to President George Bush to wait until the identity of the perpetrators had been precisely identified beyond doubt.

Mubarak said it was unreasonable to launch an all-out war on a country because of the actions of individuals or groups. "We shouldn't jump to conclusions without conducting a thorough investigation."

Mubarak said it wasn't possible for Egyptian troops to participate in this offensive, adding that such an arrangement requires an agreement and parliamentary approval.

When asked about the expected repercussions of an assault on Afghanistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mubarak said he didn't believe bin Laden alone was responsible for the attacks on the US. "American experts also believe the operation is beyond bin Laden.

My advice is not to attack Afghanistan or kill bin Laden because this will result in the rise of a new generation of terrorists," he said.

Regarding the situation in the Middle East, the President said the problem was very complicated but could still be handled. He said the two sides were negotiating in the Red Sea resort of Taba shortly before former US president ended his term.

"Both sides made substantial concessions and were on the verge of reaching a deal, but Clinton ran out of time and couldn't give the operation the needed support," Mubarak said, adding that it was downhill since Sharon took office in Israel.

He added that in order for this problem to be resolved, the two sides must exert tremendous efforts, indicating that the West and the US shouldn't leave them grapple with the issue without assistance.

"We must all try to assist in solving the protracted crisis in the Middle East, otherwise the results will be catastrophic not only to regional countries but also other regions," he said.

The President asserted that he had strong hopes of an eventual resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, adding that one of the major hurdles in any future settlement is the issue of Jerusalem.

"Since the start of the peace process under late president Sadat, Arabs were in agreement that holy sites must not be under Israeli control. Muslims and Christians all over the world cannot accept this," he said.

END