Mubarak to US Jews: Attack on Iran risky
During first visit to Washington in five years, Egyptian president tells Jewish leaders best way to deal with Tehran is to 'wait and see how leadership rift unfolds,' adding 'strike on nuclear facilities would rally Iranians around their government.' On Shalit deal: Question of where freed Palestinians will settle once released is one of main obstacles
WASHINGTON – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday warned against an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Speaking in Washington during a closed meeting with Jewish leaders, Mubarak said, "There is a rift within the Iranian leadership, and the best way (to deal with its nuclear program) is to wait. An attack would only rally the Iranians around their leadership."
The Egyptian president, who last visited the US five years ago, was set to hold a series of meetings on Monday with top American officials, headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mubarak already met Defense Secretary William Cohen and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
During the meeting with the Jewish leaders, Mubarak praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said he was optimistic about the Mideast peace process. He urged those involved in the process not to press the Arab states regarding the normalization of ties with Jerusalem.
As for Egypt's efforts to advance a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas that would secure the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Mubarak estimated that the current situation is similar to the one at the end of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's term.
According to the Egyptian president, the question of where the Palestinian prisoners will settle upon their release remains one of the main obstacles holding up the deal. Hamas wants them to be sent to the West Bank, while Israel is insisting that they settle in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Mubarak's visit to Washington is also part of Egypt's effort to cement its status as the US' main Arab ally after years of tension between the countries. In the past Mubarak refused to visit the US in protest of former President George W. Bush's Mideast policy, including the war in Iraq. Bush also criticized Egypt's policies and human rights record.