August 19, 2006

Egypt warns against any military strike on Iran

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned
against any military strike on Iran in an interview published
on Saturday.

The United Nations Security Council has demanded Iran
suspend uranium enrichment by the end of the month after Tehran
failed to persuade the international community its atomic
scientists were working on power stations, not bombs.

Washington has declined to rule out military strikes as a
solution to the nuclear dispute.

"The conflict between the United States and Iran must be
resolved through diplomatic channels and direct dialogue,
because any strike on Iran means the end of stability in the
region and the world," Mubarak said in an interview published
on Saturday in Egypt's Akhbar al-Youm newspaper.

Iran has set itself an August 22 deadline to respond to an
offer of economic incentives designed to persuade it to comply
with the suspension demand.

Egypt has not had full diplomatic relations with Tehran in
more than 25 years and high-level contacts are rare, usually
limited to international meetings. But Iranian Foreign Minister
Manouchehr Mottaki came to Egypt last week for talks with
Mubarak on the conflict in Lebanon and other regional issues.

In April, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit
received a telephone call from Mottaki on the nuclear issue,
and the ministers agreed to stay in touch.

"Iran is an important country in the region, and relations
between countries are governed by pacts and treaties and
agreements that prohibit interference in any internal matters
of the countries," Mubarak said in the interview.

Egypt, one of 35 countries on the board of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, says it is against any
nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but wants the dispute
resolved peacefully.

Relations between Egypt and Iran were severed when Cairo
gave refuge to the deposed Shah of Iran, who died in Egypt.
Over the years, the Egyptian government has repeatedly accused
Iran of supporting underground Islamist groups.