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Mubarak Condemns Terrorism, Urges Caution - 2001-09-24

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak renewed his condemnation of terrorism Monday, but stopped short of backing a military response in retaliation for the recent terrorist strikes on the United States.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, President Mubarak repeated earlier doubts about whether there is conclusive proof linking Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. But the Egyptian leader said that, in principle, Cairo backs a campaign against terrorism.

"In general terms, we support fighting terrorism anywhere in the world," President Mubarak said. "We will support the United States because we suffered from terrorism and gained a lot [of information] from that. We have a very good experience in that. That's why we support the United States in fighting terrorism."

Mr. Mubarak, who is on a European tour that will include stops in Berlin and Rome, warned earlier against the dangers of hasty, military reprisals that might kill innocent people. During brief remarks to reporters in Paris shortly after his arrival, he did not specify under what circumstances, if any, Egypt would back a military campaign against terrorism.

But the Egyptian leader said he had won support from President Chirac for an international conference against terrorism. Mr. Mubarak was scheduled to meet afterward with French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

Commenting on Middle East issues, Mr. Mubarak said it is critical for Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to meet. Talks between the two have been postponed several times. "Without sitting and negotiating, the problem will become much more complicated in the future," he said. "It will affect the interests of the whole world."

Both Israelis and Palestinians must take risks, Mr. Mubarak said, and return to the negotiating table.