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Egyptian Officials Upset Over Newsmax Reports

Thursday, 18 Oct 2007 03:22 PM

By Stewart Stogel

"He wishes the whole thing would just go away." This is how an Arab journalist summed up Egypt U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz's feelings about two reports on Newsmax.com (Oct. 5, Oct. 14, 2007).

The stories centered on a confrontation between the Egyptian diplomat and a special agent of the U.S. Secret Service in New York on Sept 26.

The U.N. was holding its annual General Assembly debate and the Egyptian diplomat insisted on crossing through a "frozen zone" created by the New York Police Department and Secret Service to protect Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was lecturing nearby. A frozen zone is created to ensure the safety of individuals.

The Secret Service agent directed the diplomat to an alternate crossing point which allegedly irritated him to the point where he began screaming at U.S. agent and ultimately led to the diplomat spitting at the agent.

The diplomat also insisted that he would get the Secret Service officer fired and followed up the threat with an official written protest to the State Department.

The move, according to U.N. diplomatic sources, was supported by Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, himself a former ambassador to the U.N., who was in New York City during the incident.

Since the Newsmax reports, similar stories have appeared in The Washington Times and The New York Post.

U.S. diplomats tell Newsmax that the Egyptians were upset about the Newsmax reports and the follow-ups appearing in the various newspapers.

The Egyptian U.N. mission now accuses the State Department of "leaking" the contents of the "confidential" protest regarding the incident, say U.S. sources. Despite the accusation, the Egyptian mission's own press attache, Ismail Khairat, referred reporters to the U.S./U.N. mission for any details on the "protest."

When the U.S. mission declined to reveal the details of the complaint, the Egyptian mission then leaked the memo to one U.S. television network that declined to air its contents, though it did "report" the story on an obscure section of its Web site.

Now that major print media are reporting on the incident, the Egyptians are said to have had second thoughts about pursuing the complaint.

"They want to get on with the future. This is in the past," confessed the Arab journalist.

Egypt's U.N. mission had no comment.

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