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Text of Egyptian Foreign Ministry's Statement

October 12, 1985|Associated Press

CAIRO Here is the text of a statement issued Friday by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in reaction to the forcing down by U.S. warplanes of an EgyptAir plane carrying the hijackers of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro. The statement, in Arabic, was translated by the Associated Press:

The government of the Arab Republic of Egypt was regrettably taken by surprise when American planes intercepted an EgyptAir plane that was carrying hijackers of the Italian ship along with two PLO officials who had participated in negotiations with hijackers. The interception of the plane occurred when it was on its way back to Cairo after the Tunisian authorities denied it access and announced that the airport was closed to it, despite Tunisia's earlier approval for the plane to land at Tunis Airport--approval that had taken several hours to obtain.

Egypt, which always has condemned terror and violence in all forms by air or on land or by sea and which also denounced the hijacking of the Italian ship in line with its well-known and declared principles, negotiated with the hijackers of the ship on humanitarian grounds to save the lives of more than 400 people who did not include a single Egyptian and who were in grave and certain danger. It did so at the insistence of some countries that had nationals on board the ship. These countries signed a document asking Egypt to negotiate without their making any specific demands regarding the fate of the hijackers in the event of their surrender.

Egypt ended the hijack peacefully, although the ship was outside its territorial waters, and at a time when its information was that there had been no victims of the hijack as acknowledged by the captain of the ship in the tape recording that was played by the deputy prime minister and foreign minister at his press conference.

It is well known that the world followed with satisfaction Egypt's efforts to save the lives of the hostages. In this connection Egypt received messages of appreciation from most world capitals, and this led Egypt to try to deliver the hijackers to the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization for trial in accordance with what Mr. Yasser Arafat had stated and what the American President endorsed at the time. Egypt afforded a full opportunity for all Egyptian bodies of inquiry to obtain the largest possible amount of information about the hijack so that the parties concerned may know the facts and for the sake of revealing the truth.

The Arab Republic of Egypt in condemning the developments of the incident reaffirms its oft-stated position that these acts will not serve the peace process. This is in line with the basic position we have always stated, namely that terror leads to more terror and that violence breeds more violence and that a just and comprehensive peace is the only road to the stability of the Middle East and the security of all its states.

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