Egypt says no Gulf pressure to halt Mubarak trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 09, 2011 11:43 AM
Egypt says no Gulf pressure to halt Mubarak trial

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's foreign minister dismissed talk of any pressure on Cairo from Gulf Arab states to prevent the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, according to an interview published on Saturday. Mubarak, overthrown in February by a popular uprising, is due to stand trial on August 3 for the killing of protesters on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Many Egyptians, including those who took to the streets on Friday, have accused the military rulers of reluctance in trying former air force commander Mubarak and some have suggested Gulf Arabs have urged Cairo not to humiliate their former ally.

Asked whether Egyptian officials had faced such pressure, Mohammed el-Orabi told Asharq al-Awsat, "This subject was not opened, and this did not happen during our visit to the Gulf."

He referred to visits to Gulf states by Egyptian officials.

The minister also dismissed talk that mainly Sunni Gulf Arab states, who have long been wary of Shi'ite Iran's intentions in the region, opposed any move by Egypt to resume diplomatic ties with Iran that have been severed for three decades.

"We never heard of a veto from the Gulf countries making reservations on our relations with Iran," Orabi said.

"Ties (with Iran) must be woven in a healthy way between the two countries that serves the interests of both peoples," he said.

Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have offered generous economic aid to Egypt, whose economy has been hit hard by the uprising against Mubarak that drove away investors and tourists.

Those contributions have also sparked talk about whether Gulf states would quietly attach strings to their support.

Referring to uprisings in other Arab states, Orabi said: "Egypt supports the people's aspirations in all Arab countries. As for Syria, we consider it important to give a chance for Syria to undertake political reforms that support stability."

(Writing by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by Edmund Blair and Peter Cooney)