Mubarak: "Foreign powers seek to sabotage Egypt"

Mubarak: "Foreign powers seek to sabotage Egypt"Cairo - In an apparent reference to Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah, Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak on Wednesday accused foreign powers of seeking to sabotage Egypt, and warned that he will not tolerate any outside interference in the country.

"Foreign powers seek to sabotage Egypt through Islamic movements," Mubarak told a cheering crowd gathered for his his annual speech marking Labour Day on Wednesday.

"There are forces who put Egypt's national security at risk. I will not allow such threats, and I will not tolerate those who violate Egypt's land and borders," the Egyptian president said.

"Whoever these powers were, we tell them that we might tolerate their insults, but we will firmly face their plans."

Though the Egyptian president did not explicitly name either, members of the audience understood Mubarak to be talking about the Lebanese group Hezbollah and its patron, Iran. Mubarak was repeatedly interrupted by members of the audience hurling abuse at Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

"Let him stay in his hole!" one man shouted from the audience, in an apparent reference to Nasrallah. "He's a retard!"

"No insults," Mubarak responded.

It has become a tradition for members of the audience at Mubarak's Labour Day speeches to stand and recite poetry praising the president.

Three weeks ago, Egyptian authorities said they had detained members of a Hezbollah cell in Egypt and accused them of, among other things, plotting attacks aimed at destabilizing the country.

In a televised address two days later, Nasrallah denied the accusations, but admitted the group had dispatched a member to Egypt to provide "logistical aid" to the Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Soon after Israel began its 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in December, Nasrallah called on Egyptians to come into the streets "by the millions" to press the government to open Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Egypt summoned Iran's chief diplomat in Cairo to deliver the country's "strong protest" over Iranian officials' comments about Egypt's accusations against Hezbollah.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had been quoted calling the Egyptian allegations against Hezbollah "an old and frayed trick that will achieve nothing."

Egypt and Iran have not maintained full diplomatic relations since Egypt offered asylum to the deposed Shah shortly after the Iranian Revolution.

"We do not interfere in the internal affairs of any country, and we will not allow interference in ours," Mubarak said Wednesday.

"Egypt has given, and is still giving, more to the Palestinian issue than any of you have," he continued. "It did not use it as a bargaining chip, and did not share in shedding their blood. It is working hard to achieve their unity." (dpa)