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Mubarak, Gadhafi Discuss International Terrorism - 2001-11-26

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met Sunday night in Tripoli with Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi following talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Cairo. Political observers said Mr. Mubarak may be trying to build an Arab consensus on potential Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the issue of terrorism.

Egypt's Information Minister Safwat el-Sherif said Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Gadhafi shared the same views regarding the "tracking of perpetrators of terrorism on an international level."

Libya remains on Washington's list of "state sponsors of terrorism" and this month a German court found a former Libyan diplomat and three others guilty of murder for a deadly 1996 attack on a West Berlin nightclub packed with U.S. soldiers.

Hassan Nafae is a political science professor and analyst at Cairo University. He said President Mubarak's trip to Libya was designed, in part, to make sure Libya is included in discussions of regional issues. "Gadhafi is a noisy man and he has to be calmed down. I think he adopted, recently, generally positive attitudes. He even suggested doing something regarding what is going on in Afghanistan in a good direction in trying to help in resolving some of the complicated problems like the Arab-Afghan problem. So the consultation itself is to explain the Egyptian position and to see how the other Arab leaders think of the whole situation is equally important," he said.

Hassan Abu Taleb is a political analyst and expert on Arab affairs. He said President Mubarak wants to make sure the Arab world speaks with a unified voice when it comes to achieving Middle East peace. "I think President Mubarak is trying to build some sort of political alliance around a certain political Arab attitude, vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East, and he feels the American approach to peace in the area needs another Arab attitude to reach some sort of dialogue between the United States and the Arab world," he said.

Mr. Mubarak has been stepping up his diplomatic efforts over the past several weeks to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has also been calling for a United Nations sponsored conference on terrorism.

President Mubarak returned to Cairo late Sunday night. Aides said he is planning a trip to Syria this week.