Mubarak: EU must not cut PA aid

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, says cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority will encourage terrorism.

    Mubarak met Heinz Fischer (R), the Austrian president

    Speaking after a meeting in Vienna with Heinz Fischer, the Austrian president, Mubarak said: "The aid is used by the man-in-the-street to buy medicine and to send his children to school. If this money is cut, terrorism will grow and all the [Palestinian] people will suffer."

    Austria is the current chair of the European Union (EU).
      
    The 25 EU countries had an informal foreign ministers meeting in Salzburg on Friday. They said aid could be cut to the Palestinian Authority if the Hamas organisation, which won Palestinian elections in January, did not give up violence and recognise Israel's right to exist according to the road map for Middle East peace talks.

    "Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people and Israel must recognise that it can form a new government. The renunciation of Hamas of violence and its recognition of preceding engagements (in  peace talks) is for a second stage," Mubarak said.
     
    Meeting with Pope

    Mubarak is to meet Wolfgang Schussel, the Austrian Chancellor, later on Monday and then fly to the Vatican on his way back to Cairo to meet Pope Benoit XVI, as he concludes a European tour that has already taken him to Italy and Germany.
      
    Mubarak, seen by Europe as a key interlocutor in EU-Arab  relations, is the most prominent Arab leader to visit the continent in the wake of recent Muslim anger over the controversial caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons were deemed blasphemous.

    Mubarak is accompanied by Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister; Mohammed Rachid, the industry minister, and Anal el Feki, the information minister.

    SOURCE: AFP


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