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Mubarak Seeks to Defuse Anger Over Remarks on Shi'ites


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has sought to defuse anger over his recent remarks about Shi'ite Muslims being more loyal to Iran than to their home countries, saying he was referring only to religion.

In an interview published Saturday in the official Akhbar al-Youm newspaper, Mr. Mubarak says he only wanted to warn of threats to Iraq's unity and sovereignty.

Last week, Mr. Mubarak told al-Arabiya television during an interview that civil war in Iraq had already begun among Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds and foreign fighters from Asia. The Egyptian president also said Iran has significant influence over Iraq's majority Shi'ite population.

Iraqi leaders and Shi'ites across the region denounced Mr. Mubarak's remarks and accused him of fueling sectarian tensions between Islam's two main sects.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.