Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech at dinner for Egyptian President (Hosni Mubarak)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking text
Editorial comments: 1945 for 2000.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 762

Welcome Hosni MubarakPresident and Mrs Mubarak, Dr. Abdel Meguid, Dr. Al Ganzuri, Mr. Al Sharif and other distinguished members of the President's party.

It is good to see you here again two years since your last visit. Most important to keep in close touch. Particularly pleased that you found time to come to see us after your very important and successful visit to Washington. [end p1]

Relations between Britain and Egypt are excellent. Of course they go back quite a long time. We were already on good terms in the days of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart. And of course it is a particular pleasure to us that both you, Mr. President and your distinguished Anwar Sadatpredecessor married ladies with close family ties to this country. [end p2]

Our views are close on so many issues and practical cooperation flourishes. I was particularly glad that last summer we were able to respond effectively and quickly to your request for help to clear the Gulf of Suez and the approaches to the Suez Canal mines. I was also very glad at Egypt's vote in the UN General Assembly Debate on the Falkland Islands. That made a deep and favourable impression here. [end p3]

We have had many exchanges of visits over the past year. Sir Geoffrey Howe was in Egypt in January 1984. Field Marshal Abu Ghazala and Dr. Boutros Ghali were welcome visitors here and Mr Heseltine, our Defence Secretary and Mr. Raison, our Overseas Development Minister, had very useful talks in Cairo. We are most grateful for the hospitality you extended to them. [end p4] Very recently we were delighted to see Dr. Abdel Meguid shortly before my own visit to Washington. We recognise and admire Egypt's leading position in the Arab world, as well as her great international influence. We want our relations with you to be particularly close and cordial.

We were delighted with the restoration of relations between Egypt and Jordan and the subsequent [end p5] efforts which you and King Hussein have made together to develop a joint Arab negotiating position. We are in no doubt that these efforts are of very great importance and deserve the full support of all those who are looking for a real and lasting peace in the area. We share your fears that unless progress towards a comprehensive settlement is made soon, the opportunity will be lost and [end p6] with it much of the ground which has so far been gained.

We are ready, with our European colleagues, to play a part in helping the peace process forward at the right time. But we are in no doubt that it is only by the efforts of the parties directly involved that a solution can be found. I hope that it will be possible to build on the current initiative to reach a position [end p7] where the Palestinians and the Israelis are ready to acknowledge formally in direct negotiations that the other has legitimate rights which must be respected. President Sadat 's courageous example is an example to others.

I hope, Mr. President, that the dispute between the Arabs and Israel will not continue to [end p8] dissipate the creative energies of the people of the Middle East for much longer. As you, yourself, have recognised in your own country, there are many more important things to be done. I was encouraged therefore to see it confirmed in your recent talks in Washington that President Reagan will be giving you his support. [end p9]

We should not forget the other areas of conflict in the Middle East, above all the appalling cycle of retaliation and counter retaliation which prolongs the agony of the Lebanese people. We must all work for an end to that. The long conflict in the Gulf is a preoccupation for us both and a tragic waste of human life. [end p10]

Mr. President, Britain and Egypt are two countries unrivalled in the length of their histories, the richness of their culture and the experience and wisdom of their people. It is a matter not just of satisfaction but of deep and abiding pleasure that we now understand each other so well and are able to work together so effectively. [end p11] To this your personal contribution, Mr. President, has been outstanding. You and Mrs Mubarak are always welcome guests here and I hope that we shall soon have a change to meet again.


His Excellency The President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Mrs Mubarak.