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(photo credit: AP [file])
Negotiations for the release of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit are in their final stage, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak said Wednesday.
Speaking about Shalit, who was captured by Hamas-linked terror operatives in June, Mubarak said "negotiations on releasing him are in their final stage and waiting for Hamas' approval."
Egypt had made considerable effort to resolve the crisis, Mubarak said, "but it seems that there other parties who are intervening against the interest of the Palestinian people."
Mubarak did not say who the "other parties" were, but he appeared to mean Syria, where Hamas' top leader Khaled Mashaal lives. He did not give additional details about the negotiations.
The semi-official Al Gomhouria published the comments in an edition of Thursday's newspaper distributed Wednesday night. Mubarak spoke to newspaper editors accompanying him on his European tour.
Mubarak also warned that the situation in Iraq would worsen unless something is done about the militias.
"Iraq is heading toward a catastrophe if the issue of the militias remained unsolved because the disputing militias are concerned about their own interests and not Iraq's interest," the pro-government Al Gomhouria quoted Mubarak as saying.
Mubarak said that he told Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who met him Tuesday in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, that the Iraqi government should settle the issue of convening an international, regional or a national conference to end the violence in Iraq.
"But Iraq should first end the struggle of the militias which are pushing the country toward an unknown fate and exposing it to outside intervention," Mubarak said.
Shi'ite militias are thought to be behind much of the recent upsurge in violence.
Iraqi leaders have in recent days rejected a suggestion for an international conference by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to be convened abroad, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq was leaning toward convening this conference in Iraq because that will be a show of support for the Iraqi people.
Mubarak also said that he told Zebari that Iraq should end the sectarian conflict and not to "succumb to the threats of the disputing powers."
On Lebanon, Mubarak said "the Lebanese should show more wisdom and not go after demonstrations, protests or speeches that incite one party against the other because this will lead to a civil war ... and that some political powers want to practice a political role deriving their might from others."