with Boutros Boutros-Ghali

After getting in at midnight with no customs probs despite the HRW reports in my bag, changing a flat tire on what seemed like the busiest highway in Cairo, and 4 hours sleep I had a pretty good day today. It was, however, entirely inside the confines of this extremely posh terrorist target, the Intercontinental Hotel by the River Nile.

A lot of friends are here from Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, and even a Hezbollah mine victim I met back in 1998. Everything was late. I think because the parliament was opening, they held off starting until most of the invited Ministers could make it. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egypt’s former Foreign Minister, the UN Sec-Gen prior to Kofi Annan, and president of the host of the conference opened the meeting with a brief, but good statement. He called for all countries to join the treaty, including Egypt. Then a dozen government ministers spoke, at varying lengths, mostly long! What I liked is that they were talking about what their Ministry could do to aid development in the country’s northwest, where most of the WWII mines are located. Sure, they said they need money, but very few gave the same tired old argument that Egypt cannot support the treaty because the agreement fails to require the governments that laid the mines, clear them. They must have realized this line was getting rather old and the rest of the world is moving on without them!

There are four mine survivors here from the northwest province. For them it’s probably a bit bewildering, but they did media interviews an seemed to be taking it all in. It just sucks I cannnot communicate with them without translation. The ICBL has a bunch of info at: www.icbl.org