US embassy cable - 05CAIRO2280 (original version)

CODEL PELOSI MARCH 19-20 VISIT TO CAIRO: MUBARAK ON ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS, IRAQ, IRAN, EGYPT'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, AND DARFUR (original version)

Identifier: 05CAIRO2280
Wikileaks: View 05CAIRO2280 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 2005-03-23 15:29:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: OREP PREL KPAL KDEM IS IZ IR EG Visits
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 002280 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/ELA, H 
NSC STAFF FOR POUNDS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/21/2020 
TAGS: OREP, PREL, KPAL, KDEM, IS, IZ, IR, EG, Visits 
SUBJECT: CODEL PELOSI MARCH 19-20 VISIT TO CAIRO:  MUBARAK 
ON ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS, IRAQ, IRAN, EGYPT'S PRESIDENTIAL 
ELECTION, AND DARFUR 
 
REF: CAIRO 2203 (NOTAL) 
 
Classified by Charge Gordon Gray for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
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Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C)  In a particularly relaxed meeting with CODEL Pelosi 
March 20, President Mubarak reviewed his efforts to convince 
Syrian President Bashar to withdraw all his forces from 
Lebanon (reftel) and reiterated his commitment to improving 
relations with Israel and pressing forward on solving the 
Israeli-Palestinian issue.  Mubarak said Egypt was ready to 
train more Iraqi troops and noted strong Iraqi security 
services were the key to success in Iraq.  He emphasized that 
Egypt would not be content to allow Iran to develop nuclear 
weapons and expressed support for diplomatic efforts while 
firmly reiterating his opposition to any military action 
against Iran.  Mubarak assented that the Sudanese Government 
had made mistakes on Darfur but argued that quiet pressure 
was more effective than public actions.  Mubarak also said he 
was "begging" candidates to participate in the 
multi-candidate presidential elections to come from a 
constitutional amendment.  End summary. 
 
2. (SBU)  Representative Nancy Pelosi(D-CA), her spouse Paul 
Pelosi, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), his spouse 
Katherine Issa, Representative George Miller (D-CA), his 
spouse Cynthia Miller, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), 
his spouse Janet Waxman, Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), 
his spouse Susan Blumenthal, Representative Anna Eshoo 
(D-CA), Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), his spouse Lisa 
McGovern, Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA), House Sergeant 
at Arms Wilson Livingood, Democratic Leader's office policy 
advisor Michael Sheehy, and Press Secretary to Representative 
Issa Frederick Hill met with President Mubarak for more than 
90 minutes March 20.  The CODEL was accompanied by the Charge 
and ECPO MinCouns (notetaker).  Presidential spokesman 
Ambassador Soliman Awad joined the President.  Mubarak, who 
had just finished an hour-long meeting with an American 
Jewish Committee delegation (scheduled for 30 minutes) was 
extremely relaxed and entertaining, and invited the 
delegation into an adjoining office for numerous photos after 
the formal meeting concluded.  Although he walked with a 
stiff gait, he appeared energetic and stood with the group 
throughout the photo session. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Mubarak steadily improving relations with Israel 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
3. (C)  Representative Pelosi introduced the members of the 
delegation, expressed recognition of Mubarak's leadership in 
the region and progress on domestic economic reforms, and 
requested Mubarak's views on the situation in the Middle 
East.  Mubarak explained how he was introducing change at his 
own pace "at the right time."  He said he had started working 
quietly on economic reform many years ago and that he had 
introduced his recent dramatic economic reforms at the proper 
time.  Segueing into how building relations with Israel also 
took time, Mubarak explained how he had gone from a situation 
seven years ago, when Egyptian businesspeople had refused to 
have anything to do with Israel, to a situation last year 
when the private sector in Egypt had led efforts to gain 
public support for the Qualifying Industrial Zone agreement 
with Israel. 
 
4. (C)  Mubarak discussed his role in organizing the summit 
in Sharm El Sheikh (attended by PM Sharon, King Abdullah, Abu 
Mazen, and Mubarak), noting that the summit was a "golden 
opportunity" and that he had not "interfered" in the 
discussions but had sat down and made his views known to both 
in separate meetings.  Mubarak said that following that 
successful summit, the time had been right to invite Israeli 
Defense Minister Mofaz.  That March 10 meeting had been 
accepted by the Egyptian public, Mubarak said, and he would 
proceed with more invitations to senior Israelis to visit 
Egypt.  Mubarak noted the recent cease-fire agreement reached 
by 13 Palestinian factions in Cairo as another positive step, 
although he cautioned that "just because the leaders agree, 
does not mean there will be no terrorist incidents." 
Representative Issa expressed his confidence in the strength 
of the bilateral relationship and asked about Mubarak's views 
of Lebanon.  Mubarak described his persistent efforts to get 
President Asad to agree to full withdrawal of Syrian forces 
from Lebanon (reftel). 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Iraqi elections a success, but security the key 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
5. (C)  Representative Waxman asked for Mubarak's views on 
Iraq and Iran, and specifically on the recent elections in 
Iraq.  Mubarak emphasized that the elections had been "a very 
good thing" but reiterated his view that the Iraqis and 
Iranians were very "tough" people who had no compunctions 
about resorting to violence.  Mubarak used examples of Saddam 
Hussein showing him Baghdad's assassination sites and Iraqi 
threats of violence after the Egyptian peace agreement with 
Israel as examples of Iraqi predilection for violence. 
Noting his position that the coalition should not have 
dismantled the Iraqi military and security services, Mubarak 
said that trained individuals from those organizations, 
joined by extremists, now led violence against coalition 
forces in Iraq.  Stating that training of Iraqi security 
forces was the key to stability in Iraq, Mubarak noted 
Egypt's offer to train Iraqi soldiers.  Only 146 had been 
trained so far, Mubarak complained, and this was "not enough 
to secure a street in Baghdad."  He said Egypt was ready to 
train 500-600 Iraqis at a time but the Iraqis had not sent 
more trainees.  In response to Representative McGovern's 
question as to why Iraq had not sent more forces to be 
trained and whether the presence of U.S. forces made the 
situation worse, Mubarak responded emphatically that the U.S. 
had to stay the course in Iraq.  "Your forces cannot leave 
now," he said, arguing that the U.S. presence is vital to 
stability in Iraq.  "You have to train more Iraqi forces," 
Mubarak added, and when this occurs "you can move out of the 
populated areas." 
 
6. (C)  Representative Eshoo asked whether members of the 
former Iraqi Armed Forces were acceptable in today's Iraqi 
military.  Mubarak responded that a mixture of new recruits 
and former military personnel who had not been loyal to 
Saddam should form the basis of an effective security force. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
Egypt against Iranian nuclear plans; will not pursue nuclear 
arms 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
7. (C)  Representative Markey asked the President how he 
viewed Iran's plans to become a nuclear power and whether 
Egypt could live with this result if Iran succeeded. 
Interpreting the question as asking about Egypt's own nuclear 
plans, Mubarak said firmly that Egypt had no plans to acquire 
any nuclear weapons "under any circumstances," and that any 
contrary assertion was "propoganda."  All of Egypt's reactors 
and facilities were "completely open" Mubarak emphasized. 
When Representative Markey clarified that he was referring to 
Iran, Mubarak said that Egypt was committed to its policy of 
a Middle East region that was free of weapons of mass 
destruction.  This included Iran but also "Israel's nuclear 
weapons," Mubarak clarified.  He said his advice on how to 
stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons was to pursue 
"diplomatic means" but not to take military action against 
Iran.  Military action would be "a big mistake" he 
emphasized, which would lead to Iran forming terrorist groups 
and attacking U.S. forces throughout the Arabian Gulf region. 
 
8. (C)  In response to Representative Pelosi's question about 
the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon, 
Mubarak related his recent experience with Iranian duplicity 
when Iran had sought to reestablish diplomatic relations in 
2004.  He said that the Revolutionary Guard operated 
completely independently of Iranian President Khatemi (who he 
termed a "failed reformer") and said he had no information as 
to whether the Guard might be present in Lebanon. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Arms smuggling into Gaza; views on Abu Mazen 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)  Representative Miller thanked Mubarak for his role 
in supporting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.  Mubarak 
explained that he had had particularly good talks with 
Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz and how he had discussed means 
to limit the smuggling of arms into Gaza. 
 
10.  (C)  In response to Representative Pelosi's request for 
Mubarak's views on Abu Mazen, Mubarak explained that Abu 
Mazen lacked Arafat's ability to take decisons for the 
Palestinian people.  While aknowledging Arafat's many missed 
opportunities, Mubarak said that Arafat had been a leader 
since the 1960s and had the confidence of the Palestinian 
people and could play the various Palestinian factions off 
against each other.  Abu Mazen was not that powerful, Mubarak 
explained, stating that "we have to all support him." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
Mubarak "begging" candidates to run for president 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
11.  (C)  Representative Issa asked about Mubarak's 
initiative to propose a referendum to amend the constitution 
to allow for multi-candidate elections for President. 
Mubarak explained that he had been considering this move 
since 2003 and had almost announced it in February of 2004, 
"but the time was not right."  The move was for "the future, 
not for me," Mubarak declared, stating he was "begging" 
others to participate in the presidential elections. 
Recapping the difficulties he had faced during his tenure as 
President including the growth of population from "43 million 
to 72 million" despite shortages of "water, food, and waste 
disposal," Mubarak said he wanted  to "do something for the 
people."  Stating that he had built up Egypt's international 
standing from a postition of almost total isolation in the 
Arab world and strained relations with the U.S. and Soviet 
Union to a position of international respect and prominence, 
Mubarak suggested that it was time to do more for the 
domestic situation.  But all must be done at the right speed, 
Mubarak cautioned, saying he could not make the people do "a 
high jump" yet. 
 
12.  (C)  In response to Representative Waxman's query as to 
whether Mubarak would participate in open presidential 
debates, Mubarak laughed, responding "you can have debates in 
your country," and suggesting that such activities were 
inappropriate for Egypt's political process.  Representative 
Issa asked whether Mubarak had thought about the number of 
candidates that would be appropriate to run in a presidential 
election, proposing that a limited number might force groups 
to form serious alliances rather than just running for 
themselves.  Mubarak did not respond on the number of 
candidates, noting only that he was most concerned that 
religious extremists would run for president and then take 
over the political system.  This possibility was the 
"greatest threat" to the process, Mubarak insisted. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Darfur should be settled with quiet pressure 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
13.  (C)  After Mubarak responded to a question from Mrs. 
Miller on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan by stating that 
Sudan's problems were the result of warring factions, that 
these problems used to be solved amongst themselves, and that 
public attention only made them worse, Representative Pelosi 
underlined concerns in the U.S. about the scope of the 
humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the indiscriminate actions 
of armed groups that may have been supported by the 
Government of Sudan.  Mubarak acknowledged that the GOS had 
made mistakes and that it was very important that food and 
medicine get to the region.  However, he said he was not sure 
that the scope of the tragedy was as big as some 
international observers believed.  He said the GOE was 
working with Libyan leader Qadhafi to use Libyan funds to 
work for a solution in Darfur, noted the presence of Egyptian 
doctors and medical facilities, and said pressure needed to 
be applied on the Khartoum Government, but it needed to be 
done out of the public eye. 
 
14. (U)  CODEL Pelosi did not have an opportunity to clear 
this messge before departing Cairo. 
 
15. (U)  Minimize considered. 
 
 
 
 
 
Visit Embassy Cairo's Classified Website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/cairo 
 
You can also access this site through the 
State Department's Classified SIPRNET website. 
 
GRAY 

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