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World - Middle East

Egyptian leader tells Clinton to stop bombing Iraq


Attack on Iraq: An image gallery

U.S. military assessment of 1st two bombing phases

French coalition officials demonstrate

In this story:

December 19, 1998
Web posted at: 3:07 p.m. EST (2007 GMT)

CAIRO (CNN) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called Saturday for an immediate end to the U.S.-British bombing of Iraq, joining Russia, China and others who oppose the airstrikes.

Mubarak made his plea in a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton.

"President Hosni Mubarak called for the immediate ending of military operations against Iraq due to the extreme damage it is causing to Iraq and its people and the region," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.

Moussa said chief United Nations weapons inspector Richard Butler "made a mistake" in his assessment of Iraq's cooperation with his U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), leading "to an escalation of the situation in an exaggerated way."

Russia and China already had voiced their disapproval of the military action, with Russia warning Friday that relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union could be severely strained by the attacks.

Demonstrators gather at Human Rights Square in Paris to protest the U.S. and British airstrikes on Iraq  

Protests staged in France

In Paris, parties in the French leftist coalition put aside government caution and staged a muted demonstration Saturday against the U.S. and British bombing campaign.

"I must say that I think France should condemn more strongly this unacceptable intervention in Iraq," Communist Party leader Robert Hue told the crowd in a windswept square overlooked by the Eiffel Tower.

Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and his ministers have avoided direct criticism of their Western allies over the military intervention, instead blaming Baghdad for provoking the attacks.

However, coalition party officials have been more forthright in their condemnation, and organized Saturday's rally, which was attended by fewer than 300 people. The protest was backed by all government parties -- the Socialists, Communists, Greens, Radicals and Citizens' Movement.

Protests also were held in other French cities, and a larger demonstration was held by French citizens Saturday night in Paris.

Vatican: Pope still wants to visit Iraq in 2000

Elsewhere around the globe, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced his opposition to the air attacks.

"We Cambodians do not support any solution by force or by violence in relations between state and state," he said. "I don't want to see any missiles fired at any countries."

And Pope John Paul II, who plans to visit the Middle East in 2000, still wants to visit Iraq during that trip.

"Let's hope so," said Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. "That is our wish."

The Vatican has criticized the airstrikes, calling them attacks of aggression and saying it hoped for a swift end to the bombing.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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