Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Slip of the tongue? Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit referred to Israel as an "enemy" during a press conference in Beirut on Saturday.
Aboul Gheit said concerns expressed by Israel and the United States on the alleged transfer of Scud missiles from Syria to Hezbollah were "ridiculous".
"Anyone who is familiar with the (Scud) missile knows that it cannot be smuggled or concealed," he said.
Following talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister 'Ali Al-Shami, Aboul Gheit was asked whether he was visiting Beirut in order to convey a warning from Israel.
The Egyptian minister said in response that the purpose of his trip was not to relay messages "from the enemy to a sister Arab state."
Aboul Gheit also said Cairo would stand by Lebanon and Syria in case they were attacked.
His statement made the headlines of a number of Arab newspapers, including the London-based Al Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi daily Al-Madina and Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai.
The Egyptian press chose to play down the minister's comment.
An official in Jerusalem told Ynet that Israel deems the remark "very harsh."
Meanwhile, in his first speech since returning to Egypt from Germany, where he underwent successful surgery for an inflamed gall bladder, President Hosni Mubarak said on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Sinai that his country will remain committed to peace if Israel does the same.
AFP contributed to the report