Egypt's Leader Urges Iraq Power Transfer 'As Soon As Possible'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 12, 2004 Egypt's senior leader today told President Bush it's paramount to transfer sovereignty to an Iraqi government "as soon as possible."
During his visit to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak praised Egyptian-U.S. relations, noting that he'd had a "constructive, candid and friendly" talk with the U.S. president "on a wide range of issues."
One of those issues, Mubarak noted during a news conference at the ranch, was Iraq. "I conveyed to the president our serious concerns about the current state of affairs" in Iraq, Mubarak told reporters. Egypt, he pointed out, was especially concerned about humanitarian and security matters stemming from recent fighting in Fallujah and in the southern portion of the country.
Mubarak said he'd also emphasized to Bush "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 president noted he and Bush "agreed to intensify our extensive cooperation" in fighting global terrorism, to include "finding solutions to the political and economic problems that represent the underlying causes of terrorism."
Bush welcomed "my good friend, Hosni, to my home," declaring America and Egypt "have three decades of solid, beneficial relations behind us." The United States, Bush pledged, "will continue to work with Egypt and the Arab world in a spirit of common purpose and mutual respect."
During a question-and-answer-session with reporters, Bush vowed the U.S. and coalition "will transfer sovereignty" to the Iraqi people, despite "a tough week because of lawlessness and gangs that were trying to take the law into their own hands."
America and its coalition partners, Bush explained, are fending off insurgent attacks while providing "security for the Iraqi people so that a transition can take place."
The president emphasized that the United States "is a compassionate country that cares about the loss of innocent life." However, he added, American troops in Iraq do have the right to defend themselves against insurgent aggression.
The vast majority of Iraqis, Bush maintained, want a peaceful and free country. The insurgents constitute "a small percentage of the Iraqi people," Bush said, and shouldn't be allowed to "decide the fate of everybody."