Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Egyptian President Mubarak Looks Ill During Visit

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak was received in a state visit in Washington last week. However, those who observed the 82-year-old Egyptian President on his first visit to the United States since 2004, said that he appears to be on his last legs.

Mr. Mubarak has been struggling in his meetings in Washington. A participant in one meeting said Mr. Mubarak appeared to be in physical pain and unable to understand much of what was being said to him.

"He looks like a zombie," the participant said.

In 2009, he underwent a battery of medical tests in Paris that identified heart illness, blood ailments and a serious back problem. Moreover, the president was said to have sunk into a depression when his favorite grandson died suddenly in May 2009.

"The doctors told him to take a long vacation abroad, but he felt he could not be outside Egypt for so long," a Western diplomatic source said. For his part, Mr. Mubarak reassured the Obama administration that he would remain in office in the years to come. He did not rule out running for another term of office in 2011.

On Aug. 19, Mr. Mubarak met President Barack Obama for a review of bilateral relations and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. An official said Obama urged Mr. Mubarak to recruit Arab support for a peace agreement with Israel that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"We are moving in the right direction," Mr. Mubarak said after the meeting. "The Arab states are ready to help if the Israelis and the Palestinians returned to peace talks."

Over the last few weeks, the administration has approved a series of Egyptian weapons requests and deliveries, including that of military helicopters and anti-ship missiles. The White House was also expected to approve an Egyptian request for the advanced F-16 Block 52+ multi-role fighters later in 2009.

"Relations between us and the United States are very good relations and strategic relations," Mr. Mubarak said. "And despite some of the hoops that we had with previous administrations, this did not change the nature of our bilateral relations."

During his visit, however, Mr. Mubarak appeared to concentrate on promoting his son and heir-apparent, Gamal, an economist and regarded as the No. 2 figure in Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party.

View this story in the Philadelphia Bulletin
View this story at Israel Behind the News

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