Sunday’s papers: Hariri in Egypt, Nile Basin questions

Al-Gomhurriya leads today with a headline quoting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri saying, “I have benefitted from the wisdom of the president [Hosni Mubarak] before visiting the US.” Hariri, who is travelling to Washington today for the first time since he became prime minister, met with President Mubarak yesterday to discuss a range of issues, specifically peace in the Middle East.

Al-Akhbar states that President Mubarak has affirmed Egypt’s complete support of Lebanon, emphasizing the president’s effort to stabilize the country and maintain peace. Discussions between Mubarak and Hariri also focused on nuclear weapons, with both leaders expressing their desire to keep the region nuke free.

In statements after his meeting with Mubarak, Hariri called for the international community and specifically the United States to increase pressure on Israel to a reach peaceful resolution with the Palestinians.

State-owned papers also report that Mubarak met Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa to discuss, among other things, developments on the issue of the Nile Basin contentions.

In related news, Al-Ahram reports that the Congolese president and Kenyan prime minister are currently in Cairo to discuss Nile distribution issues, following a disputed agreement signed in Uganda between Nile source countries earlier this month.

Al-Akhbar elaborates, saying that the two sub-Saharan African leaders are expected to meet with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to discuss economic and trade cooperation between the countries, as well as more pressing issues relating to the Nile. For now, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit is quoted by state papers saying that Egypt is in no immediate danger of any disruption to its Nile flow.

Al-Wafd leads with a report on developments in the ongoing strike by workers of the Amonisto textile company. The workers, who have been barricaded in front of the Shura Council pavement for several weeks, wore loose, torn clothing yesterday. Some wore shirts that read “we despair from the government.” An effigy symbolizing the execution of the workers’ requests was hung from a pole.

Al-Shorouq leads with reports that the Saudi Telecom Company is currently in negotiations to purchase Vodafone Egypt. There are a total of five companies interested, according to Al-Shorouq, including Egypt Telecom, which already owns 45 percent of Vodafone Egypt.

Al-Shorouq quotes anonymous sources saying that the company will go to highest bidder, and that the British company’s wish to leave the Egyptian market is not due to political or economic reasons. Rather, Al-Shorouq says, the British investors prefer not to stay too long in a single market.

The paper also reports on erratic changes in cigarette prices after a recent announcement to increase taxes on the product. It says that sellers are setting prices “depending on their moods,” with some withholding cigarette sales completely until the matter becomes clearer.

The new tax is expected to come in effect by July, increasing local cigarette prices by 24-50 piasters, and imports by 100-150 piasters. Ibrahim el-Imbabi, head of Smoking Sector at the Chamber of Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries is quoted criticizing the increase on local cigarettes, saying people of limited income consume them. He also criticized the way the decision was taken without consulting manufacturers, adding that smokers already pay LE12 million in taxes each day.

Finally, Al-Dostour reports that the area surrounding Fayoum stadium witnessed chaos yesterday from 10 AM until before the start of a football match between the Zamalek and Fayoum clubs. Security are said to have thrown tear gas at the hooligans responsible for the commotion. A member of the stadium’s security team was reportedly injured.

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

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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