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Local FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

stability, just as Arab peoples expect their leaders to do. Our societies are overburdened with illiteracy and extremism and have been facing hateful terrorism that claims to be Islam-based while we all know that Islam is purely innocent from calling for violence, murder and the destruction our region has unfortunately been lately witnessing on a daily basis. There is also the need to declare the Middle East nuclear and WMD-free, which is a highly important topic in view of the fact that Israel is the only regional state that has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has never subjected its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection, which calls for special measures since such a situation creates a case of regional strategic imbalance and poses a threat of the spread of such weapons in an area that already has major security problems. All these topics will be discussed at the summit which we hope will effectively contribute in adopting Arab policies and moves to solve those issues and face the threats our societies are facing. Q: In view of the occasional terrorist attacks in Egypt and different international attitudes after the deposing of former president Mohamed Morsi, how do you view Egypt’s political, security, economic and touristic future? A: Egypt’s future will be determined by its own people. Their choices were clear at all phases including the recent referendum on the amended constitution. The Egyptian people will never put off its will because of some desperate acts of terrorism that will never stop life from going on. We fought a similar war against terror in the 1990s and it was not limited into Egypt. We fought it on behalf of the whole region. As of international attitudes, there are no differences in recognizing the Egyptian revolution’s legitimacy. Others’ interest in what is going on in Egypt is because of Egypt’s significance and its impact on the entire region. Q: When will you set a date for the presidential and parliamentary elections in Egypt and what will the interval between them be? A: We are moving with our roadmap and the first phase was the Egyptian people’s approval of the constitution. The Supreme Committee for the presidential elections will, within a few days, announce nominations for the elections and when the presidential elections will take place. Parliamentary elections will be then scheduled. Q: What about the Egyptian authorities’ efforts to settle the disagreement with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam Project? A: This topic poses a major challenge for both the Egyptian government and people because it is related to the Nile waters which provide over 90 percent of Egyptian water needs. Egypt has, more than once and at all levels, stressed that it does not mind and actually supports building developmental projects in the river source countries. It also expressed complete readiness to cooperate and provide expertise needed to support such projects. The main problem lies in some countries’ wish to build huge projects and dams without consulting estuary countries about the best methods to build and operate those dams, which is very dangerous because it means ignoring the interests of those countries including Egypt. The Nile is an international river and relations between countries that share it must be governed by international rules, laws and principles that apply to them as well as other countries sharing rivers worldwide. Dangerous developments have been taking place over the past months in view of the Ethiopians ignoring recommendations made

(From left) Head of Arab Media Forum Madhi Khamees, Kuwait Journalists Association Treasurer Adnan Al-Rashed, Al-Rai Editor-in-Chief Majed Al-Ali, Al-Nahar Editor-in-Chief Jawad Bukhamseen, Al-Anbaa Editor-in-Chief Yousef Al-Marzouq, Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour, a presidential aide, KUNA Editor-in-Chief Saad Al-Ali, Deputy Chief of the Kuwaiti mission to Egypt Mohammad Al-Mohammad, KUNA’s Egypt Bureau Chief Mona Shishter and Kuwait Times Editor-in-Chief Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan pose for a group photo. by the international experts’ committee comprising experts from Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and international experts assigned to assess the possible impacts on estuary countries, which called for conducting comprehensive environmental, water and socio-economic studies prior to building the dam. Ethiopia has been ignoring those recommendations and insists on carrying on with the dam’s construction. We hope that Ethiopia will realize how dangerous the situation is and that it is jeopardizing the interests of a whole people that have no other water resource but the Nile. So we repeatedly stressed that being neighbors and having joint history and interests necessitate that both countries open a frank, transparent and understanding dialogue to contain the crisis before it gets any worse. Q: How do you view the Iran-US rapprochement, especially after the recent agreement Iran reached with the 5+1 group on its nuclear program? A: We strongly support peaceful solutions of all conflicts, which is a matter of principle for us. Out of our belief that all regional countries have equal rights in terms of security, we called for clearing the region of nuclear weapons in 1974 and of all WMDs in 1990. It will surely pose a step forward towards achieving more stability if the agreement helps reduce the tensions and matches those principles. Q: In mid-March this year, the Syrian crisis entered its fourth year and has increased the sufferings of millions of Syrians while fighting goes on. What is Egypt’s attitude on this conflict, especially in view of failing to peacefully solve it in Geneva? A: We do emphasize our full solidarity with the Syrian people in their daily sufferings. Egypt’s attitude has been for reaching a political solution that would fulfill the Syrian people’s need for change and longing for freedom and democracy away from extremism and terrorism - a solution that protects all Syrians’ rights and the country’s sovereignty and unity. Co-existence among all Syrians is the key solution that might end this tragedy. I would like to point that this conflict will not be solved militarily. The more both sides believe they are capable of ending it by combat, the more destruction Syria will suffer. Syria needs huge Arab and international efforts and support in terms of reconstruction and this will not be achieved if this military conflict goes on, costing lives and destroying infrastructure on daily basis. Undoubtedly, the Geneva negotiations need to be resumed ASAP taking the agreed

upon Geneva Document signed on June 30, 2012 as a basis of the negotiations. In this regard, Egypt strongly supports the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi who is spending valuable time, exerting endless efforts and utilizing his vast experience in handling the Syrian issue. What is needed now is to reach an agreement to end the crisis. The Security Council’s resolution number 2139 needs to be put into practice to end the Syrian people sufferings and reach suitable solutions. Q: How do you see the future of the peace process between Palestinians and Israel and do you support US efforts in this regard? A: Since the beginning, Egypt has supported US mediation between both sides on the basis that the negotiations lead to the establishment of a full-sovereign Palestinian state on territories within the 1967 borders that include the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem and Gaza. US efforts have succeeded in having both sides take part in a new round of negotiations that is expected to end by the end of April. In this regard, I would like to express Egypt’s full support to the Palestinian leadership represented by President Mahmoud Abbas in its struggle towards making the independent Palestinian state a fact. Though the situation on the ground might call for some concern, the resumption of imposing de facto policies by building more settlements and tampering with holy sanctities in East Jerusalem and barging into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulting worshippers pose great challenges to US mediators to force the Israeli side to respect the ongoing negotiations. Q: Egypt’s relations with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been greatly troubled since the toppling of President Mohamed Morsi. What is the expected future of such relations and is there any hope of bridging gaps between both sides? A: Egypt’s relation with the Palestinian cause has undoubtedly been a fundamental one and Egypt has sacrificed much blood and lives in this cause. Ever since Egypt took the lead for many reasons, it has been promoting the Palestinian issue through its strong bonds with various Palestinian groups, especially those in our geographic neighbor Gaza. Nothing proves Egypt’s involvement in many Palestinian dialogue rounds, before and after the division, than the Cairo Declaration issued in 2005 as a result of national Palestinian dialogue between president Abbas and representatives of 12 other

Palestinian groups. After the 2007 division, Egypt immediately hosted efforts aimed at ending the division between Fatah and Hamas to avoid its devastating effects on the whole national Palestinian project. However, we do emphasize that the Egyptian attitude over relations with various Palestinian groups stems from the following principles: First: Unity of Palestinian representation worldwide by PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas. Second: Presenting all needed support to translate the new legal status Palestinians gained through the UN’s historic resolution of accepting Palestine as a non-member (observer) state on November 29, 2012. Third: The importance of re-subjecting Gaza Strip and Hamas to the Palestinian legitimacy by ending the Palestinian division and reuniting with the West bank. Concerning Hamas and its relations with Egypt, we can say that instead of focusing on supporting the Palestinian national project and facing the occupation, the movement has committed several mistakes by interfering in Egypt’s domestic and political affairs and supporting a political group deemed as terrorist by the whole Egyptian people. We can generally say that bridging troubled waters between Egypt and Hamas requires the latter’s immediate halt of interfering in Egyptian domestic affairs and respecting the Egyptian people’s choices. Q: How do you assess Egyptian-Kuwaiti ties and both countries’ cooperation in various fields? A: Egyptian-Kuwaiti brotherly and historic relations go way back and are strongly exceptional. They have set role models of fraternity and unity of destiny amongst Arab brothers whose martyrs’ blood has mixed in war. And by the will of Allah, our relations will go on lighting paths of more cooperation and coordination amongst Arab states. Through several meetings with HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad, we agreed on the necessity to enhance our countries’ bilateral relations, especially in commercial, economic and investment fields. Kuwait is ranked fifth amongst foreign investors in Egypt and third amongst Arab ones. We will always boost and develop such investments and deal with any possible barriers. On this occasion, I would also like to renew the appreciation of Egypt’s people and government to Kuwait’s political and economic support since the June 30 revolution, which emphasizes both sides’ belief in their united destiny.

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