(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
Usamah al-Baz, political adviser to Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, has said that the idea of an international conference on Iraq was first mentioned by Iraq not Washington. Asked in a newspaper interview if the conference was Washington's idea, Al-Baz replied: "I do not think so because the Iraqi government spoke about the conference before the United States spoke about it." Al-Baz also answered questions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said that violence must abate on both sides and that the road map must be implemented. "It is wrong to say Israel has taken action on the issue of Gaza and that is enough; it must also withdraw from the West Bank," he added. On Egypt-US ties, Al-Baz drew a distinction between Israel's ties with the US and Cairo's ties. He said that Israel "is trying to give itself the position of a complete US ally. As for Egypt, its relationship with the United States is one of a friend who sometimes differs with his friend as happened in Iraq." The following is the text of the interview with Usamah al-Baz by Suzi al-Junaydi in Cairo, date not given, entitled "Usamah al-Baz to Al-Hayat: Nobody will impose his positions on the Iraqis at Sharm al-Shaykh conference" published by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on 29 October; subheadings inserted editorially:
[Al-Junaydi] What is the purpose of the conference that will be held in Sharm al-Shaykh on 23 November on the issue of Iraq?
[Al-Baz] The conference will be held at the request of the interim Iraqi government. This government is better aware of what it needs to prepare for transition from an interim government to a government with some continuity. The present government, whose term ends next year, has not yet embarked on real reconstruction. All it has done thus far is some sort of an anaesthetic operation.
[Al-Junaydi] Some countries like France have called for discussing the US withdrawal from Iraq at the conference.
[Al-Baz] The opinion of the Iraqi people must be taken into consideration. We will not impose our ideas on them. They are better aware of their own affairs. Egypt and France want to work for a better future for Iraq and an end to the chaos which might lead to grave consequences in the long run. We all hope that Iraq will be able to administer its own affairs by itself in the near future. We hope that occupation and the authorities granted to …