Mubarak: US presence in Iraq attracts terrorists, threatens region

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Monday that a continued U.presence in Iraq would attract terrorists and threaten the security and stability of the Middle East, according to the state MENA news agency. The remarks, a sharp deflection from Mubarak's earlier backing for the American role in Iraq, come amid a recent chill in US-Egyptian relations and the Egyptian leader's increasingly defiant tone. That defiance stepped up after US moved last year to put conditions on the US$2 billion in aid, including $1.3 billion in military assistance, that Washington gives annually to Egypt, the second largest recipient of US aid after Israel. The US Congress and Bush agreed to withhold $100 million from Egypt until it stops smuggling, implements judicial reforms and curbs police torture, which human rights groups say is systematic.