MUBARAK AND PUTIN TO PONDER MIDDLE EAST, IRAQ AND ANTITERRORISM

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MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is going to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin the situation in the Middle East, Iraq and the struggle against terrorism.

The Egyptian president will arrive with an official visit in Moscow on Thursday, May 27.

"The Middle East, Iraq and the struggle against terrorism are at the top of the list of issues to be discussed with President Putin. They are sensitive and crucially important questions, on whose solution we insistently work together with Russia. A permanent dialogue is on between us. When necessary, we discuss them by telephone", Mubarak said in an interview to the Russian Gazette daily. The interview will be published on Thursday, May 27.

He emphasised Russia's role in the Middle Eastern settlement. "It is a large country with a definite position, participating for a long time in settling the Palestinian question also as a member of the international Quartet. Moscow can promote the peace process in not only the Palestinian-Israeli relations but the entire region, including Iraq", Mubarak said.

Voicing his point of view on the Roadmap, the Egyptian president noted the importance of the start of the talks and, eventually, creation of the Palestinian state. "It will certainly take time. But terrorism cannot be stopped until the Palestinians and Israel sit at the negotiating table. Yes, there is a way out, provided everybody is motivated by honest intentions", Mubarak said.

The Egyptian president assessed the Russian-Egyptian relations as good, noting that "these relations have been reinvigorated" in recent time. "This also goes for the political sphere, where we are permanently exchanging views on the crucial problems of word politics, including on problems of our region", Mubarak said.

At the same time, "Egypt would like larger and strong" trade-economic relations with Russia. "Apart from their being beneficial for both our countries, cooperation between Russia and Egypt can produce an influence on the entire region", the Egyptian leader said.

Asked whether or not new Russian-Egyptian projects like the Aswan dam are possible, Mubarak said: "We would like to continue cooperation because the dam protects Egypt against flooding, creates large reserves of water for agriculture in our waterless climate".

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is for replacing the coalition forces in Iraq by a UN contingent.

Such replacement will "create among the people of Iraq more trust than the holding of elections", Mubarak believes.

At the same time, he stressed that the coalition forces should not leave Iraq until the legitimate passing of power to the Iraqi people.

"Until then, the coalition forces should not go because chaos may come and Iraq may become the centre of world terrorism", the Egyptian leader told the Russian Gazette in the interview.

"It is very hard now" to find a way out in Iraq. "The army, police, Baath party have been disbanded, causing the collapse of the entire state structure. The Interim Governing Council carries no authority and is idling, so far", Mubarak said.

He expressed the hope that the new Iraqi government will have real power and be able to build up an army. "Otherwise, people will show resistance to the coalition forces and will accept no police formed by these forces. Which is actually happening: anybody wearing the military uniform is immediately declared traitor", Mubarak noted.

In hip opinion, to normalise the country administration should be passed to the Iraqis and elections held as soon as possible. "After that, own army, police, justice should be formed to do away with all the injustices", he added.

Hosni Mubarak again spoke up for an international antiterrorist conference, whose decisions should be binding on every country.

"Terrorism is an international phenomenon and it will pursue every country. If there is such a threat, all the states should assume responsibility", the Egyptian president noted.

In the opinion of Hosni Mubarak, one of such decisions of the conference can be the refusal to grant political asylum to anybody committing an act of terrorism.

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