Egypt warns West to stay out of Arab affairs
Egypt`s minister also described fear of Tunisia-style revolt as "nonsense".
Cairo: Egypt`s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit warned on Sunday the West to stay out of Arab affairs, days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Arab leaders to work with their peoples to bring reforms.
And in separate remarks, Cairo`s top diplomat downplayed fears that a Tunisian-style popular revolt could spread to other Arab countries, calling it "nonsense”.
Abul Gheit made the comments in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where Arab foreign ministers are preparing for an economic summit to be held on Wednesday.
Egypt, he said, proposed to Arab League chief Amr Mussa that the summit issue a statement concerning "attempts by some Western and European nations to interfere in Egyptian and Arab affairs”.
"We hope that the summit will adopt Egypt`s proposal which would be a message from the Arab to the Western and European world saying `Do not dare interfere in our affairs`," he was quoted as saying by the official MENA news agency.
MENA said he was responding to a question from one of its journalists who asked if the summit could adopt a common position concerning Western bids to interfere in Arab affairs.
On Thursday, Hillary urged Arab leaders to work with their peoples to implement reforms or see extremists fill the void, warning the "region`s foundations are sinking”.
The region`s peoples "have grown tired of corrupt institutions”, Hillary told Arab counterparts in Qatar attending the Forum for the Future, a 2004 US initiative aimed at promoting such partnerships.
"In too many places, in too many ways, the region`s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere," she said.
Hillary said the region`s leaders "in partnership with their peoples" have the capacity to build a bold new future where entrepreneurship and political freedoms are encouraged.
"It`s time to see civil society not as a threat but as a partner," she said.
"Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries` problems for a little while but not forever.”
"Others will fill the vacuum," if leaders failed to offer a positive vision to give "young people meaningful ways to contribute," Hillary warned.
Abul Gheit also dismissed the notion that people in the Arab world could be inspired by Tunisia, where violent protests forced president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to abandon his post.
"The talk about the spread of what happened in Tunisia to other countries is nonsense. Each society has its own circumstances," Abul Gheit told reporters in Sharm el-Sheikh.
"If the Tunisian people decide to take that approach, it`s their business.”
"Egypt has said that the Tunisian people`s will is what counts," said the foreign minister.
"Those who imagine things and seek to escalate the situation will not achieve their goals.”
"The most important thing is the will of the Tunisian people. Nobody is resisting it," Abul Gheit added.
After 23 years of iron-fisted rule, Ben Ali caved in to violent popular protests and fled his country on Friday, becoming the first Arab leader to do so.
Governments in the Middle East are increasingly uneasy about the situation as opposition groups seek to take advantage of the upheaval in the north African country.
Abul Gheit`s remarks also come as Egypt has faced international criticism following legislative polls in November and December amid accusations of fraud, and for its handling of its Coptic Christian minority after a deadly New Year`s Day bombing of one of their churches.