Official, popular relief over President Hosni Mubarak’s return from Germany after successful surgery

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques phones Mubarak to congratulate him on safe return home

President Mubarak, in message to Arab summit in Sirte, stresses Palestinian issue is core of Arab-Israeli conflict

Egyptian FM: Arabs await U.S. response to Israel’s practices, policy

Mubarak reiterates calls to have Mideast free from nukes, including Israel

President Hosni Mubarak returned home to Egypt on Saturday after a three-week absence abroad for surgery that reignited speculation on who would succeed the veteran 81-year-old leader.

Dozens of senior officials greeted the president and his wife Suzanne as they emerged from the presidential plane in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and stepped onto an escalator.

"This moment, which everyone has been waiting for, is the arrival of President Hosni Mubarak," a reporter said in live coverage on television.

Dressed in a navy blue blazer and trousers, a smiling Mubarak walked down the long red carpet and shook hands with Sunni Islam's top cleric, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Coptic Pope Shenouda III, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and a host of ministers and senior police and army officials.

Mubarak, looking as if he has lost weight, earlier left Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany where on March 6 during a state visit he had surgery to remove his gall bladder and a growth on the small intestine.

He flew to Baden Baden by helicopter en route to Sharm el-Sheikh, where he is to recuperate before returning to a normal work schedule.

"The president has fully recovered from the effects of the successful surgical intervention conducted on him exactly three weeks ago," his chief doctor Markus Buechler told a news conference carried by Egyptian television.

"I have recommended, however, that the president continues his convalescence back home during the coming two weeks before he gradually returns to his full and normal activity," Buechler said.

He praised the president's "strength, willpower, determination and humanity".

Before the operation, Mubarak temporarily handed powers to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, who is heading Egypt's delegation at the Arab summit in Libya on Saturday and Sunday.

Egypt's stock market suffered a noticeable drop after Mubarak's operation as speculation mounted over his health. But shares recovered after footage of the president was finally aired on television after a 10-day absence.

The veteran leader's stay in hospital was marked by regular government statements and updates on his health, which had usually been a closely guarded secret in Egypt.

Ten days after the operation, Egyptian television broadcast pictures of a pale-looking Mubarak in a dressing gown talking to doctors in a hospital room.

Three days later, more footage was aired, this time with sound, showing the president making phone calls and going over paperwork with his chief-of-staff, Zakaria Azmi.

"It's been a tough one," he said, laughing, the first time his voice was heard since the surgery.

But the operation, which was announced at the last minute, re-launched speculation on who would become Egypt's next president, as Mubarak has not said whether he will run in the 2011 election.

It is widely believed his younger son Gamal, 46, is being groomed to take over, though this has not been confirmed by either of the Mubaraks.

Ex-UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei has entered the scene, calling for reforms and constitutional amendments. But his chances at running for president are slim due to constitutional curbs on independent candidacies. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud telephoned Egyptian President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak.

During the call, the king congratulated the president on safe arrival after the successful treatment journey. They also discussed Saudi-Egyptian relations and regional and international issues.

Following is the full text of the speech by President Hosni Mubarak to the 22nd Arab Summit in Sirte March 27-28, 2010, read out on his behalf by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif:

Brother Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Leader of the Libyan Revolution and summit chairman,

Your Majesty, Highness and Excellency,

Mr. Secretary General of the Arab League,

Brothers and sisters,

In the beginning, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to my brother Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Than, the Emir of Qatar for his efforts during his chairmanship of the previous summit session. I also express my best wishes to my brother Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in shouldering the immense responsibilities as the summit chairman for the coming year.

This summit is being held in the light of a critical regional and international situation. The current Arab situation requires us; the Arab leaders, to be frank with ourselves and study carefully the conditions of our nation and dangers and challenges hemming it in. We; the Arab leaders, should consider re-steering the track of the joint Arab action in a way that enables us to end divisions and disputes and allows us to work together for realizing the aspirations of our peoples for peace, security and development.

Our countries are faced with several internal challenges that require maintaining the development efforts to attain the aspirations of our peoples for growth and a better life. Our Arab world is faced, at the same time, with outside dangers and challenges and I would single out two major challenges:

The first one is the Arab-Israeli conflict which is maintained with all its problems and complications at a time when the inter-Palestinian division continues and Israel keeps its practices and policies overriding international legitimacy.

Israel’s stance indicates that it is not serious in undertaking genuine efforts for launching peace negotiations and establishing just and comprehensive peace.

The second one is related to the Iran-West confrontation over the Iranian nuclear file. It is a confrontation that takes our region to the verge of an abyss and adds to the polarization in some of our countries. More and above, it places all parties in a state of alert over the consequences of this confrontation on our Arab region and its peoples.

These two examples embody the problem of attaining peace and stability in the Middle East and the problem of formulating a unified and active Arab stance on the challenges the two of them are posing.

As for the Iran-West confrontation, the situation is still vague.

We are following up and monitoring all actions that are stirring apprehension in several parts of the region, including the Arab Mashreq, the Gulf and the gateway of the Red Sea.

These actions are aimed at attaining gains out of this confrontation at the expense of Arab peace and stability. We warned of the dangerous consequences of that situation on the Arab nation. We, in Egypt, underline the necessity of settling the Iranian nuclear file through dialogue and political avenues steering away from military force given its catastrophic consequences on the region.

We also confirm, at the same time, the right of all member states of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to peaceful uses of nuclear energy taking into consideration the international community’s right to inspecting all nuclear activities of these countries in accordance with commitments mentioned in the NPT.

More and above, we are asserting once again the necessity that international community should deal with the Iranian nuclear file the same way it deals with the Israeli nuclear capabilities away from any duplication of criteria or selectivity.

As for the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian cause will remain the core of this dispute and the clue to its settlement.

Also, delaying of the establishment of peace will remain the biggest danger jeopardizing the Middle East peace and stability.

The US administration is maintaining its efforts for re-launching serious peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides for reaching a peace agreement. If we have the right to give any remarks on the method used to attain this goal, we could say that keenness that characterized the US action since the start of the current administration urges us to encourage it to maintain its efforts to attain that goal; namely, the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with al-Quds as its capital and ending the Arab-Israeli conflict for good.

Regrettably, Israel is facing these efforts with a stance defying the will of the international community and measures and decisions that provoke the feelings of the Arabs and Muslims.

These measures, inciting confrontation, feeding violence and extremism and flinging us backward, include accelerating the judaization of al-Quds, maintaining settlement activities in and around the city and placing Islamic Palestinian sites on the list of the Jewish heritage list. Add to these measures, the Israeli forces storming of al-Aqsa Mosque and maintaining their practices in the West Bank and their siege of the Gaza Strip.

It is necessary that Israel, government and people, should be aware that its security and readjusting its conditions in the region, according to the Arab Peace Initiative, will not be attained as long as Israel remains adopting these stances and practices and seeks to impose a fait accompli as a means to gain legitimacy. I tell the Israeli leaders that the international community has never bestowed legitimacy on any of the Israeli practices against Palestinian rights whether in al-Quds or in any other part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

I tell them that it is better that Israel should adopt the logic of dialogue and negotiations and to work with credibility and seriousness with the Palestinian people, represented in their National Authority to outline a just solution to all final status issues in a way that ends the suffering of the Palestinian people and establish their independent state.

Peace, which is based on a just settlement to the Palestinian issue with all its components and restoring all the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian and Lebanese lands, will remain the optimal option of all parties; Arabs and Israel. It will also remain the only way to set up normal relations between both sides that are based on mutual respect and reciprocity.

Within the same context, inter-Palestinian division will remain a regrettable situation by all means. It strengthens the occupation and distances the Palestinians away from attaining their goal of setting up the independent state. It is clear to everybody that Egypt has exerted immense efforts to attain inter-Palestinian reconciliation among the differing Palestinian factions.

The Egyptian efforts did not stop but after we have realized that some quarters are seeking to hamper the signing of the reconciliation document due to trivial reasons and outside considerations that do not deem the issue of liberation, independence and setting up the state as a central and sole goal.

On the contrary, goals and interests overlapped and the priority of this central issue is no longer on top of their agenda.

Egypt will maintain its efforts immediately after receiving signs that the required seriousness and will are available.

- Your Majesty, Highness and Excellency,

Sudan is passing through a juncture in its history with the approach of two important events; namely, the legislative and presidential elections next month and the self-determination polls in the south early next year. You know all that Egypt and Sudan are closely associated with historical relations. It is true that at a time when we still have hope that this sisterly country would be able to maintain its unity and integrity and that all the Sudanese would realize the feasibility and wisdom of a unified Sudan, Egypt will respect the outcome of the polls out of its respect of the will and desire of the Sudanese who agreed to grant southern Sudan their right to self-determination.

Add to this, the situation in Darfur has enjoyed, and is still enjoying, much Egyptian care the last example of which was represented in a recent conference, hosted by Cairo, on the reconstruction and development in Darfur. We hope that efforts for attaining political settlement in Darfur would be successful for restoring stability and security to this province for the interest of its inhabitants and the Sudanese people at large.

Yemen has faced over the past year major challenges. We should not forget that Yemen, with its vital location, is an important element of the Red Sea security in its relation to the security of the Gulf and the entire Arab region. I hold that the situation requires us to start a coordinated action for extending political and development support to the Yemeni government in the face of these challenges and to enable it preserve the Yemeni people’s unity and safety and territorial integrity.

Egypt welcomes the positive developments in Lebanon over the past year that were crowned with the parliamentary elections in a democratic context which the Lebanese played the major role for its realization. We all hope that the Lebanese government, with the help of all of us, would be able to steer Lebanon away from any political crisis that has plagued it over the past years so that the right context would be available for the success of the national dialogue by all Lebanese political powers.

I congratulate the Iraqi brothers for the success of their recent elections. I wish for them the best to rebuild their country after the hard times they have passed through. I pledge that Egypt will keep siding with them and supporting their march. We hope that the outcome of the elections would help complete the success of the political process and realize more security and stability for Iraq along with preserving its Arab identity and territorial integrity away from sectarianism.

We can’t forget Somalia in its prolonged crisis. Egypt is siding with its government despite all challenges. We hope that our efforts would be maintained with an Arab, African and international support for restoring security and stability of Somalia and enabling it to practice its role at the Arab, African and international levels.

- Brothers Arab leaders,

- Brothers and sisters,

Upgrading mechanisms for the Arab joint action will remain a major job for the current and coming phases especially in light of the successive developments in the world around us. We have started a few years ago taking steps along the road of upgrading our Arab League. But the need is much stronger today for completing these steps in a more accelerated pace. I am well aware that my brother the summit chairman has important ideas and proposals that should be studied to reach the optimal method for dealing with them and attaining their goals.

Egypt is looking forward to hosting the second social, developmental and economic summit next year after the success of the first summit in sisterly Kuwait last year. We are well aware of the importance of pushing up social and economic development efforts for our societies in an age that is full of strong economic blocs. We will build at Cairo summit on what we have achieved in Kuwait summit of drafts of development projects. I call all the Arab countries, governments and private sectors, to work for proposing more ideas that could be floated at the summit.

Egypt, as it has always been, will never spare any effort for establishing peace and stability in the region and restoring the Arab rights along with overcoming differences and divisions out of its faith that its Arab identity will remain the major component of the Egyptian national interest and that supporting the joint Arab action constitutes a goal we are able to attain with the help of God as long as we have the will and determination.

I greet once again my brother the leader of the Libyan revolution and express my best wishes for him in his mission. I also express my best wishes to my brothers the Arab leaders.

Thank you,

May God’s peace and blessing be upon you.