Don’t strike Libya, Egyptian envoy says

by Masami Ito

Egyptian Ambassador Walid Mahmoud Abdelnasser expressed concern Wednesday over the violence in neighboring Libya but stressed that the international community shouldn’t militarily intervene.

Amid the protests over President Moammar Gadhafi’s decades-long dictatorship, some talk has emerged of NATO military action.

“On Libya, we clearly declared and officially declared we are opposed to any external military intervention,” Abdelnasser told reporters, calling for a peaceful internal resolution. “We see no interest for us or for the countries of the region in perpetuating a conflict-driven situation characterized by bloodshed.”

The situation in North Africa has been extremely unstable since the protest movements that began in Tunisia triggered similar revolts in Egypt, Libya and other countries.

Egyptians began protests Jan. 25 targeting President Hosni Mubarak, triggered by the demonstrations against the one-man rule in Tunisia. Mubarak repeatedly expressed his intention to remain in power until the end of his term in September, but he was finally forced to step down after massive protests continued for more than two weeks.

Abdelnasser stressed that Egypt, under the provisional leadership of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to which Mubarak transferred power, has been taking steps toward recovery.

He said such steps include drafting a revised Constitution that will be voted on in a referendum in late March, releasing numerous political detainees and adopting anticorruption measures to freeze the assets of various ministers and business leaders, including Mubarak and his family.

“We are in a historical moment of our history because we are now moving to a society that is (being built) by the wish of the people and the will of the people,” Abdelnasser said. “We are moving to, hopefully, a fully democratic society.”

He expressed his intention to work with Tokyo to lower the travel advisory level to encourage Japanese to visit his country.

Ibrahim Khalil, tourism councilor at the embassy, said tourism accounts for about 12 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product.