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Renowned Egyptian diplomat ElBaradei speaks in Utah


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SALT LAKE CITY — As the strife continues in the Middle East, a man once charged with maintaining "nuclear world peace" made a stop in Utah. As tensions escalate once again in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, Mohamed ElBaradei says the global solution has little to do with military strength and more to do with communication.

ElBaradei is a renowned diplomat and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He had a simple message Thursday.

"That we are one human family, sharing the same basic values and same desire to live in freedom, peace and dignity," he said.

ElBaradei has a vested interest in democracy and stability in the Middle East. He was instrumental in the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year.

Thursday, he spoke for nearly 45 minutes, largely about ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and on his expertise with regard to nuclear weapons, answering why so many country's try to develop them.

"The simple answer is that nuclear weapons are seen as bringing power, prestige, and an insurance policy against attack," ElBaradei said.

The audience consisted mostly of University of Utah students who both praised ElBaradei's message of increased diplomacy. They were also critical of how politicians have handled the most recent attack on the Libyan embassy.

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"He sets a perfect example for a mutual respective dialogue and the need to come together and put our problems aside," said student Spence Mullins.

Tad Garland, another student, said that this is a problem with American diplomacy.

"This isn't an ‘us versus them' problem, this is an American problem," Garland said. "And frankly, it's kind of embarrassing that our own country can't figure out what to do when its embassy is burned to the ground."

ElBaradei says effective communication and diplomacy is not simply an American problem, but a global one. Whether the subject is nuclear weapons, soldiers, land rights or ideological difference, effective communication is the key.

"This is because security is not ultimately a matter of how many weapons or soldiers a country has," he said. "It's whether countries believe they can live together in peace with their neighbors."

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Andrew Wittenberg

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