CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak’s trip to the US scheduled for May 25 has been postponed indefinitely due to the death of his grandson.
Both White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and ambassador to the US Sameh Shoukry confirmed that the trip had been cancelled. It would have been Mubarak’s first visit to the US since April 2004.
The MENA news agency quoted Shoukry as saying he had informed the White House of the postponement, and hoped to reschedule the visit for a future date.
US President Barack Obama is due to visit Egypt on June 4 to make a speech in which he intends to address the Muslim world. He has already met Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and is also due to meet Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Former head of Al-Ahram’s Washington bureau Atef Al-Ghamry told Daily News Egypt, “As we learned, Obama called Mubarak to offer his condolences. It was obvious that the psychological effect on Mubarak from this event would make it unsuitable for him to visit the US at the time.
He added that relations will remain on a more positive course than recent times saying, “The bigger part of the meeting will be in Cairo. It’s true that Mubarak was due to meet other American officials from Congress . but that can be done later. Because there is a short time span between the two visits, there will not be such a lull.
Relations between Egypt and the US had soured during the Bush administration, which led to the end of Mubarak’s annual trips. Since Obama assumed office there seems to be an improvement in relations between the two countries.
Head of the Karama party Saad Aboud told Daily News Egypt, “It is for a humanitarian reason, and trips are cancelled for health reasons all the time so it would be understandable to postpone it. There is no need to be conducting affairs of state under these circumstances.
MP from the ruling National Democratic Party Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah told Daily News Egypt, “The cancellation was natural for humanitarian reasons. He has as a right as a person to grieve over his family loss. I think the US will be considerate of this. “We are human and are affected by such things. A trip to the US will be difficult at this point, he added.
Al-Ghamry said, “I expect Obama’s visit could restore the strategic dialogue between the US and Egypt, which [former US Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright also had with [then Foreign Minister] Amr Moussa, which involved discussion of issues even beyond the borders of the region to include topics such as Africa.