Al-Ahram Weekly Online   28 May - 3 June 2009
Issue No. 949
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

President back to schedule

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ENDING a brief mourning period after the death of his grandson, President Hosni Mubarak this week resumed his duties. On Sunday he headed a high-level meeting at the presidential headquarters in Heliopolis.

All the president's top aides were present at the one-hour meeting that provided the head of state a tour d'horizon over a wide range of political and economic issues. Also present were the speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

An official statement qualified the meeting as an opportunity to go through issues related to Egyptian- American relations ahead of an expected visit by US President Barack Obama to Egypt. The visit, the statement added, also offered an opportunity for the president to issue directives to Chief of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid who will be flying to the US for an exchange of views with top American officials on issues of mutual concern to Cairo and Washington. The delegation left on Monday and is expected back Thursday.

In press statements made independently hours after the meeting, Abul-Gheit and Rachid detailed the presidential directives. The top Egyptian diplomat said he would deliver a written message from Mubarak to Obama and that the Egyptian delegation would press upon senior US officials the need for direct and intense engagement in Arab-Israeli peacemaking. Rachid said that Egypt was pursuing closer and wider economic cooperation with the US.

It was not clear whether the delegation will be received by Obama who is visiting Egypt on 4 June to deliver a speech to the Muslim and Arab worlds. If he has time, we will meet him, Abul-Gheit said.

Mubarak was scheduled to visit Washington this week for talks with Obama but the trip was cancelled following the death of his grandson. Previously scheduled visits by European officials were also cancelled, however, the president is expected to resume his normal schedule within a week, sources suggest.

On Tuesday Mubarak expressed his deep appreciation for public sympathy for his grief.

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