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Blair, Mubarak Discuss War on Terrorism, Mideast Peace - 2001-10-11


British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have discussed the war on terrorism and the conflict in the Middle East during talks in Cairo. The two leaders spoke with reporters after their meeting.

Prime Minister Blair said it was important for the world to fully recognize what he called the "real" purpose of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

"The purpose was to set in train a series of events that would divide people, Arab and Western; divide people Muslim and other faiths; divide people the whole of the world," Prime Minister Blair said. "Our response has got to be to say to these people you will not divide us at this time. We will stand united in our fight to see international terrorism defeated."

Discussing the military attacks against Taleban military installations and the al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan, Mr. Blair said they must never be viewed as a campaign by Western countries against Islam. He said now is the time for decent people around the world to stand united against terrorism.

In his comments to reporters, President Mubarak said the two leaders agreed that nations should use all means necessary to refrain from providing a safe haven for terrorist organizations.

The Egyptian president has been critical of Western countries for granting political asylum to Islamic militants who have escaped prison terms in their own countries. Mr. Blair, in response, said Britain is tightening its asylum laws, which he acknowledged "have some gaps."

President Mubarak also called for a U.N. sponsored conference on terrorism, which the British prime minister said he supports.

The Egyptian leader also emphasized that without a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem the world will never be safe.

"We are dealing with terrorists in Afghanistan, but without reaching a comprehensive settlement to the problem, I am afraid, this will lead to a very bad future for the whole world and there will be no safety on our planet in the future," President Mubarak said.

Mr. Blair expressed his support for a Palestinian state that evolves in a process of negotiation and guarantees the security of Israel. He said no one should doubt the enormous importance of Israelis and Palestinians living side by side as equal partners.

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