Mubarak meets Bush, voices concern regarding Iraq situation
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday told US President George W. Bush that he was deeply concerned over the crisis in Iraq and urged Washington to transfer sovereignty "as soon as possible."
"On Iraq, I conveyed to the president our serious concerns about the current state of affairs, particularly in the security and the humanitarian areas," Mubarak told his host.
"I further stressed the importance of restoring Iraq's sovereignty as soon as possible within a context that preserves its territorial integrity and unites all Iraqis toward a common future," the Egyptian leader added.
Mubarak stated attempts to expand the UN role in Iraq "is an important step that should be further encouraged."
For his part, Bush said: "The situation in Iraq has improved. But you're right, it was a tough week because there was lawlessness and gangs that were trying to take the law in their own hands."
"I strongly believe that by far the vast majority of Iraqis want there to be a peaceful country and a free country," Bush added.
Regarding Palestine, the two leaders said they would welcome an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a positive step toward a Middle East peace agreement and a future Palestinian state.
"I think any withdrawal from the occupied territory is very highly appreciated," Mubarak told reporters.
The Egyptian president warned, however, that such a move would not take the place of the internationally-brokered road map to Middle East peace, unveiled by Bush in June 2003.
"If he (Sharon) were to decide to withdraw, it would be a positive development," Bush said. "We both are in agreement that if Israel makes a decision to withdraw, it doesn't replace the road map."
But, Bush said, a Palestinian state would remain in jeopardy "if terrorists are willing to kill" in order to interrupt progress. "We can't let people blow up the process, but that's what's happening," Bush noted.(Albawaba.com)
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