Egypt Won't Send Troops
The Associated Press
Thu 4 Oct 2001
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday that although his country is committed to fighting terrorism, it will not send troops abroad for any military action.
``We support resisting terrorism and (are) against terrorism but we do not participate with troops anywhere because the Egyptian army is there to defend Egyptian lands,'' Mubarak said on national television.
The United States wants backing from Middle Eastern nations for its response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. U.S. officials have focused on Afghanistan, whose Taliban rulers have sheltered suspect Osama bin Laden.
A decade ago, Mubarak helped the United States muster Arab support for the international coalition that ousted Iraq from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War. Egypt contributed 36,000 troops to the force, and some Egyptian fighters took part in the ground offensive against Iraq.
Mubarak spoke before a scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is touring the region to build support for the U.S.-led coalition. He said Rumsfeld ``is not coming to ask for forces or anything. He's coming to exchange views about what's happening in the region.''
Many Arab countries have shown reluctance to join the coalition, fearing that Arab nations like Iraq may themselves become targets. Arab governments also are concerned they would face popular anger if they participate in attacks against mostly Muslim Afghanistan.
Calling Egyptian-U.S. relations ``very good,'' Mubarak said he has urged the United States not to rush into any action to avoid a violent reaction.
He made the comments while answering questions from the armed forces during an appearance marking the anniversary of the Oct. 6, 1973 Mideast war, when the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal into the Israeli-held Sinai peninsula.
Mubarak also said that a change in U.S. policy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is crucial to reducing terrorism.
``Fifty percent of the terrorism problem results from the Palestinian issue,'' he said.
Many Arabs accuse the United States of blindly backing Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.