Monday’s papers: Nuclear negotiations and the First Lady

All three state-owned daily papers lead with both foreign and regional news. Al-Ahram and Al-Gomhurriya both offer front page stories on the Sudanese elections and US President Obama’s nuclear security summit. There’s also front-page coverage of the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash over the weekend, with President Mubarak–back on the job after a five-week post-surgery convalescence–offering a personal tribute to Kaczynski.

Both papers emphasize Mubarak’s ongoing calls for a regionally focused nuclear summit that would declare the entire Middle East a nuclear-free zone. The US has never been particularly keen on such a summit, since the Arab states would inevitably focus on Israel’s large, but officially unacknowledged, nuclear arsenal.

Al-Ahram offers glowing coverage of Sudanese democracy in action, with a headline hailing the “80% voter turnout.” Even more glowing is a front-page column by Editor-in-Chief Ossama Soraya, which amounts to a belated valentine to First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. Citing Mrs. Mubarak’s work on behalf of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and on projects to preserve Egypt’s cultural heritage, Soraya gushes: “With calmness, with practical behavior and with rare professionalism, First Lady Suzanne Mubarak has played a pioneering role in changing the lives of Egyptians.”

Al-Gomhurriya gives front-page treatment to the case of 17 Egyptian citizens deported from Kuwait–though other news outlets put the number at 21–for political activity in support of Mohamed ElBaradei. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit doesn’t give the impression of being particularly outraged at the development, but says the foreign ministry is investigating the incident. He strongly denies Egypt had any role in encouraging the Kuwaiti crackdown.

Independent daily Al-Shorouq refutes Abul Gheit’s denials with a front-page headline that declares “ElBaradei supporters in Kuwait arrested in coordination with Egypt.” The article cites off-the-record interviews with anonymous Egyptian and Kuwaiti sources, in which one Kuwaiti official expressed his government’s “great respect for Mubarak,” and said his country “couldn’t allow” any sort of open anti-Mubarak activity on Kuwaiti soil.

Al-Shorouq also gives extensive coverage to growing protests demanding an increase in the local minimum wage and criticizing supposed government plans to “indirectly raise electricity and petrol prices in July.”

Egypt’s newspapers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run
Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouq:Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
Youm7: Weekly, privately owned
Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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