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Cablegate: Codel Pelosi March 19-20 Visit to Cairo: Mubarak

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 002280



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/21/2020


Classified by Charge Gordon Gray for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (C) In a particularly relaxed meeting with CODEL Pelosi
March 20, President Mubarak reviewed his efforts to convince
Syrian President Bashar to withdraw all his forces from
Lebanon (reftel) and reiterated his commitment to improving
relations with Israel and pressing forward on solving the
Israeli-Palestinian issue. Mubarak said Egypt was ready to
train more Iraqi troops and noted strong Iraqi security
services were the key to success in Iraq. He emphasized that
Egypt would not be content to allow Iran to develop nuclear
weapons and expressed support for diplomatic efforts while
firmly reiterating his opposition to any military action
against Iran. Mubarak assented that the Sudanese Government
had made mistakes on Darfur but argued that quiet pressure
was more effective than public actions. Mubarak also said he
was "begging" candidates to participate in the
multi-candidate presidential elections to come from a
constitutional amendment. End summary.

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2. (SBU) Representative Nancy Pelosi(D-CA), her spouse Paul
Pelosi, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), his spouse
Katherine Issa, Representative George Miller (D-CA), his
spouse Cynthia Miller, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA),
his spouse Janet Waxman, Representative Edward Markey (D-MA),
his spouse Susan Blumenthal, Representative Anna Eshoo
(D-CA), Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), his spouse Lisa
McGovern, Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA), House Sergeant
at Arms Wilson Livingood, Democratic Leader's office policy
advisor Michael Sheehy, and Press Secretary to Representative
Issa Frederick Hill met with President Mubarak for more than
90 minutes March 20. The CODEL was accompanied by the Charge
and ECPO MinCouns (notetaker). Presidential spokesman
Ambassador Soliman Awad joined the President. Mubarak, who
had just finished an hour-long meeting with an American
Jewish Committee delegation (scheduled for 30 minutes) was
extremely relaxed and entertaining, and invited the
delegation into an adjoining office for numerous photos after
the formal meeting concluded. Although he walked with a
stiff gait, he appeared energetic and stood with the group
throughout the photo session.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Mubarak steadily improving relations with Israel
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (C) Representative Pelosi introduced the members of the
delegation, expressed recognition of Mubarak's leadership in
the region and progress on domestic economic reforms, and
requested Mubarak's views on the situation in the Middle
East. Mubarak explained how he was introducing change at his
own pace "at the right time." He said he had started working
quietly on economic reform many years ago and that he had
introduced his recent dramatic economic reforms at the proper
time. Segueing into how building relations with Israel also
took time, Mubarak explained how he had gone from a situation
seven years ago, when Egyptian businesspeople had refused to
have anything to do with Israel, to a situation last year
when the private sector in Egypt had led efforts to gain
public support for the Qualifying Industrial Zone agreement
with Israel.

4. (C) Mubarak discussed his role in organizing the summit
in Sharm El Sheikh (attended by PM Sharon, King Abdullah, Abu
Mazen, and Mubarak), noting that the summit was a "golden
opportunity" and that he had not "interfered" in the
discussions but had sat down and made his views known to both
in separate meetings. Mubarak said that following that
successful summit, the time had been right to invite Israeli
Defense Minister Mofaz. That March 10 meeting had been
accepted by the Egyptian public, Mubarak said, and he would
proceed with more invitations to senior Israelis to visit
Egypt. Mubarak noted the recent cease-fire agreement reached
by 13 Palestinian factions in Cairo as another positive step,
although he cautioned that "just because the leaders agree,
does not mean there will be no terrorist incidents."
Representative Issa expressed his confidence in the strength
of the bilateral relationship and asked about Mubarak's views
of Lebanon. Mubarak described his persistent efforts to get
President Asad to agree to full withdrawal of Syrian forces
from Lebanon (reftel).

--------------------------------------------- --
Iraqi elections a success, but security the key
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (C) Representative Waxman asked for Mubarak's views on
Iraq and Iran, and specifically on the recent elections in
Iraq. Mubarak emphasized that the elections had been "a very
good thing" but reiterated his view that the Iraqis and
Iranians were very "tough" people who had no compunctions
about resorting to violence. Mubarak used examples of Saddam
Hussein showing him Baghdad's assassination sites and Iraqi
threats of violence after the Egyptian peace agreement with
Israel as examples of Iraqi predilection for violence.
Noting his position that the coalition should not have
dismantled the Iraqi military and security services, Mubarak
said that trained individuals from those organizations,
joined by extremists, now led violence against coalition
forces in Iraq. Stating that training of Iraqi security
forces was the key to stability in Iraq, Mubarak noted
Egypt's offer to train Iraqi soldiers. Only 146 had been
trained so far, Mubarak complained, and this was "not enough
to secure a street in Baghdad." He said Egypt was ready to
train 500-600 Iraqis at a time but the Iraqis had not sent
more trainees. In response to Representative McGovern's
question as to why Iraq had not sent more forces to be
trained and whether the presence of U.S. forces made the
situation worse, Mubarak responded emphatically that the U.S.
had to stay the course in Iraq. "Your forces cannot leave
now," he said, arguing that the U.S. presence is vital to
stability in Iraq. "You have to train more Iraqi forces,"
Mubarak added, and when this occurs "you can move out of the
populated areas."

6. (C) Representative Eshoo asked whether members of the
former Iraqi Armed Forces were acceptable in today's Iraqi
military. Mubarak responded that a mixture of new recruits
and former military personnel who had not been loyal to
Saddam should form the basis of an effective security force.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Egypt against Iranian nuclear plans; will not pursue nuclear
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. (C) Representative Markey asked the President how he
viewed Iran's plans to become a nuclear power and whether
Egypt could live with this result if Iran succeeded.
Interpreting the question as asking about Egypt's own nuclear
plans, Mubarak said firmly that Egypt had no plans to acquire
any nuclear weapons "under any circumstances," and that any
contrary assertion was "propoganda." All of Egypt's reactors
and facilities were "completely open" Mubarak emphasized.
When Representative Markey clarified that he was referring to
Iran, Mubarak said that Egypt was committed to its policy of
a Middle East region that was free of weapons of mass
destruction. This included Iran but also "Israel's nuclear
weapons," Mubarak clarified. He said his advice on how to
stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons was to pursue
"diplomatic means" but not to take military action against
Iran. Military action would be "a big mistake" he
emphasized, which would lead to Iran forming terrorist groups
and attacking U.S. forces throughout the Arabian Gulf region.

8. (C) In response to Representative Pelosi's question about
the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon,
Mubarak related his recent experience with Iranian duplicity
when Iran had sought to reestablish diplomatic relations in
2004. He said that the Revolutionary Guard operated
completely independently of Iranian President Khatemi (who he
termed a "failed reformer") and said he had no information as
to whether the Guard might be present in Lebanon.

Arms smuggling into Gaza; views on Abu Mazen

9. (C) Representative Miller thanked Mubarak for his role
in supporting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Mubarak
explained that he had had particularly good talks with
Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz and how he had discussed means
to limit the smuggling of arms into Gaza.

10. (C) In response to Representative Pelosi's request for
Mubarak's views on Abu Mazen, Mubarak explained that Abu
Mazen lacked Arafat's ability to take decisons for the
Palestinian people. While aknowledging Arafat's many missed
opportunities, Mubarak said that Arafat had been a leader
since the 1960s and had the confidence of the Palestinian
people and could play the various Palestinian factions off
against each other. Abu Mazen was not that powerful, Mubarak
explained, stating that "we have to all support him."

--------------------------------------------- ----
Mubarak "begging" candidates to run for president
--------------------------------------------- ----

11. (C) Representative Issa asked about Mubarak's
initiative to propose a referendum to amend the constitution
to allow for multi-candidate elections for President.
Mubarak explained that he had been considering this move
since 2003 and had almost announced it in February of 2004,
"but the time was not right." The move was for "the future,
not for me," Mubarak declared, stating he was "begging"
others to participate in the presidential elections.
Recapping the difficulties he had faced during his tenure as
President including the growth of population from "43 million
to 72 million" despite shortages of "water, food, and waste
disposal," Mubarak said he wanted to "do something for the
people." Stating that he had built up Egypt's international
standing from a postition of almost total isolation in the
Arab world and strained relations with the U.S. and Soviet
Union to a position of international respect and prominence,
Mubarak suggested that it was time to do more for the
domestic situation. But all must be done at the right speed,
Mubarak cautioned, saying he could not make the people do "a
high jump" yet.

12. (C) In response to Representative Waxman's query as to
whether Mubarak would participate in open presidential
debates, Mubarak laughed, responding "you can have debates in
your country," and suggesting that such activities were
inappropriate for Egypt's political process. Representative
Issa asked whether Mubarak had thought about the number of
candidates that would be appropriate to run in a presidential
election, proposing that a limited number might force groups
to form serious alliances rather than just running for
themselves. Mubarak did not respond on the number of
candidates, noting only that he was most concerned that
religious extremists would run for president and then take
over the political system. This possibility was the
"greatest threat" to the process, Mubarak insisted.

Darfur should be settled with quiet pressure

13. (C) After Mubarak responded to a question from Mrs.
Miller on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan by stating that
Sudan's problems were the result of warring factions, that
these problems used to be solved amongst themselves, and that
public attention only made them worse, Representative Pelosi
underlined concerns in the U.S. about the scope of the
humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the indiscriminate actions
of armed groups that may have been supported by the
Government of Sudan. Mubarak acknowledged that the GOS had
made mistakes and that it was very important that food and
medicine get to the region. However, he said he was not sure
that the scope of the tragedy was as big as some
international observers believed. He said the GOE was
working with Libyan leader Qadhafi to use Libyan funds to
work for a solution in Darfur, noted the presence of Egyptian
doctors and medical facilities, and said pressure needed to
be applied on the Khartoum Government, but it needed to be
done out of the public eye.

14. (U) CODEL Pelosi did not have an opportunity to clear
this messge before departing Cairo.

15. (U) Minimize considered.

Visit Embassy Cairo's Classified Website:

You can also access this site through the
State Department's Classified SIPRNET website.


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