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Egypt Assures US of Its Support - 2001-09-26

President Bush met with Egypt's foreign minister Wednesday as the United States continues to build an international coalition against terrorism. Mr. Bush repeated his assurance that this will be a fight against terrorism, not Islam.

Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, said the long friendship between Egypt and the United States will continue in this coalition against terrorism. "We have suffered in Egypt from terrorism," he said, "so it is only normal that we would share the feelings of the United States people and to be determined to work with them in order to find ways and means to put an end to terrorism not in a selective way but in a comprehensive way."

The Egyptian foreign minister said this month's attacks in New York and Washington were not just attacks against the United States but attacks against all freedom-loving nations of the world. He thanked the Bush Administration for its contribution to the latest Israeli-Palestinian moves toward ending a year of violence, saying that can help bring stability to the region.

"I believe that Egypt and the United States will continue to work together in order to help create a better world and to ensure a safer world for everybody and insure a solution of the problems in our part of the world based on the right of all people to live in peace and security and cooperate for the common prosperity," he said.

Egypt is one of the United States' biggest allies in the Middle East and, along with Saudi Arabia, a key part of making this international coalition against terrorism work. The Bush administration wants Arab countries to play a big part in the coalition to show that the campaign against terrorism is not a broader campaign against Islam.

President Bush met again with Muslim leaders at the White House Wednesday to repeat his call for religious tolerance in the United States, saying everyone must be treated with respect. Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes have been on the rise since officials identified Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization as the prime suspects behind the attacks.

"I have told the nation more than once that ours is a war against evil, against extremists," said Mr. Bush. "That the teachings of Islam are the teachings of peace and good. And the al-Qaida organization is not an organization of good, an organization of peace. It's an organization based upon hate and evil."

President Bush said Muslim-Americans are just as patriotic as he is. He said the values of respect and religious freedom that make America strong must continue to guide the nation as it enters this war against terrorism.