Al-Ahram Weekly Online
22 - 28 November 2001
Issue No.561
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Current issue | Previous issue | Site map

Maher in Pakistan

FOREIGN Minister Ahmed Maher paid a 24-hour visit to Pakistan on Monday and conveyed a message from President Hosni Mubarak to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Maher also met with his Pakistani counterpart, Abdul-Sattar Khan, to discuss developments in Afghanistan. The Egyptian Foreign Minister told reporters that they also talked about ways and means of promoting cooperation between Egypt and Pakistan.

Asked about plans for establishing a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan, Maher said that Egypt does not intend to play a role in any plans for the future of the troubled country. He added that Egypt supports the Afghan people and that "the final word on the matter of forming a new government in Kabul is in the hands of the Afghan people."

EU assistance

WHILE in Cairo on Saturday, the head of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said that the EU plans to "help" Egypt deal with the economic consequences of the global crisis sparked by the 11 September attacks against the United States.

"Following the attacks, the tourism sector in Egypt recorded losses of between 1.5 and 2 billion dollars," Prodi told reporters after talks with President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Atef Ebeid. "We [have] engaged to speed up aid."

The EU had earmarked 600 million euros ($540 million) to help Egypt develop its economy between 2002 and 2006, and now will study how to provide the money sooner and direct it into short-term assistance for those suffering from the fall in tourism.

"The tourism industry and the availability of foreign currency have been placed in great danger by the terrorist event," added Prodi.

Tourism in the year 2000 netted $4.3 billion for the national economy, but by October 2001 the revenue had plummeted by between 40 and 45 per cent, according to Tourism Minister Mamdouh El-Beltagui. El-Beltagui expects an even larger drop during the winter season.

Mekki to face trial

ACTRESS Wafaa Mekki was referred to a Criminal Court by Prosecutor- General Maher Abdel Wahid on 15 November on charges of torturing and indecently abusing her teenage maid, and causing her severe burns and bruises on various parts of her body. Mekki's mother is facing similar charges.

The girl, at Mekki's request, was driven by fellow actor and cousin, Ahmed El-Borei, and dropped near the railway station of her hometown, Qweissna, in the Nile Delta. Mekki and her mother were on the run for 18 days before police caught up with them in an ambush on the Cairo-Alexandria highway. Mekki was hiding in an apartment rented for her by her ex- husband, who was also sought by police on fraud charges.

The actress has denied the girl's accusations, claiming that the burns on her body were caused by a skin disease. A forensic examination proved that the injuries were deliberately inflicted on the girl.

Television tragedy

WATCHING the ever-rolling TV programmes in Ramadan may end up in tragedy. A television set exploded just before Iftar on Sunday at a home in the town of Hawamdiya in Giza governorate. The explosion also set off a butane gas cylinder.

Hassan Mohamed, his wife and their four children suffered severe burns and injuries and were taken to hospital. The reason behind the TV set explosion is being investigated by prosecutors. At the same time, Minister of Industry Mustafa El-Rifai ordered that a special committee be formed to determine whether the television set was manufactured in accordance with standard specifications. "It is a very dangerous accident that cannot be ignored," Rifai told the press.

Compiled by Shaden Shehab

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