Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
Political Science and International Relations disciplines
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA USA 24401
source: Agence France Presse from Cairo, Nov. 12, 2001
byline: MICHEL SAILHAN
French President Jacques Chirac said here Monday that military action in the US-led war against terrorism must be "strictly limited to Afghanistan" and not extend to other countries.
Speaking to reporters with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Chirac also urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks but in the presence of the United States and several others parties.
Egypt and other Arab countries insist that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is vital to stopping terrorism. "Mubarak and I, we believe that military action must be strictly limited to Afghanistan," Chirac said at the press conference, which was also broadcast live on Egyptian state television.
Mubarak emphasized the same point.
"We totally agree with the opinion of President Chirac and we said it to the United States: Military operations must not be extended to other (countries) than Afghanistan."
The Egyptian leader added that widening the number of countries targetted in the war on terrorism "could be harmful for the interests of the whole world."
Arab officials have expressed fears that the US strikes might extend to Arab countries, particularly Iraq, as part of the campaign against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Chirac also said that while France backed the US military action in Afghanistan, a solution in the war on terrorism "could only be found in the framework of the United Nations."
He added that he and Mubarak strongly backed the efforts of Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN chief's special envoy, "concerning the acceleration of the implementation of a political solution acceptable to all in Afghanistan."
On the regional front, Chirac called on Israelis and Palestinians to return to "a table of peace" which should also be attended by the United States, the European Union, Russia, Egypt and Jordan.
The French president expressed "worry about the current situation in the Middle East and the need to have a new peace conference, a peace table."
Chirac said he had raised the idea with US President George W. Bush, during their meeting in Washington last week.
He added that the United States was "without a doubt best placed" to convince the two sides to return to the negotiating table.
Negotiations have been derailed since the Palestinian uprising erupted in September 2000 in the wake of the failure of the Camp David summit two months earlier.
Mubarak, meanwhile, urged Bush to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom he has shunned until now despite meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"This meeting must definitely take place," Mubarak said. "After Arafat, it will get more difficult to negotiate. Not one Palestinian will agree to make the concessions that Arafat refuses to make."
The Egyptian leader also warned of the risk of new generations of more "ferocious terrorists" emerging if the Arab-Israeli conflict is not settled.
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