Mubarak visits Beni Suef, talks Palestine, economy

Beni Suef–President Hosni Mubarak paid a visit to Beni Suef yesterday, where he discussed regional issues, the economy, and his personal memories of the city.

Mubarak said that the disagreement between Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority demonstrates how the Palestinian question is one where there are many "missed opportunities." Mubarak said his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday will focus on reconciliation between Palestinian factions.

Mubarak spoke at a press conference in Beni Suef el-Gedida, where he inaugurated and toured a number of projects. He pronounced that "Egypt has only one crossing, which is the Rafah border crossing. The rest of the crossings are on the borders between Israel and Gaza."

Mubarak also said that he had been against the crossing of 36 vehicles brought by George Galloway into Gaza, because, according to him, aid normally comes in the form of food or medication but not in the form of cars.

Recalling his memories in Beni Suef, Mubarak said, "I used to work as a pilot at Beni Suef Airport. The first air strike in the 1973 war was launched from this airport."

"I always used to come to the Beni Suef Sports Club to have my tea," he said, "That’s why I gave directions to the population minister to establish a sports club on an area of 27 feddans in Beni Suef el-Gedida."

During the conference, a member of the Beni Suef local council told Mubarak that even though he is Christian, he was elected by Muslims in Beni Suef. Mubarak interrupted the council member saying, "Don’t say ‘Muslims and Christians.’ Say ‘I was elected by Egyptians.’"

Mubarak’s visit was accompanied by tight security measures on the eastern desert road. The highway from Beni Suef to Minya was closed to cars during the visit, blocking a hearse and four micro-buses traveling from Helwan in the direction of Minya and forcing them to change route. Three schools were also closed for security reasons.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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