Al-Jazeera: Mubarak's son met secretly with top White House officials

The son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is widely seen as his father's heir-apparent, met secretly late last week with top White House officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Al-Jazeera reported Monday.

The talks came amid increasing criticism from the Bush administration of the Mubarak government for its crackdown on the political opposition, and Mubarak comments that he does not take orders from Washington.

Egypt did not report Gamal Muabark's trip to Washington and its disclosure by the Arab satellite channel came as Cairo's state-owned newspapers blasted the Bush administration for interfering in Egypt's internal affairs.

Egyptian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, also said Mubarak had asked his reform-minded Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to put off a visit to Washington this month.

Opposition newspapers have reported that Nazif and Gamal Mubarak are at loggerheads over the slow pace of reform.

A reporter for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera said she saw Gamal Mubarak entering into the White House Friday with Nabil Fahmi, Egypt's ambassador. She said both men refused to respond to her questions.

A day earlier, the U.S. State Department said it was deeply concerned about reports that Egyptian authorities arrested and repressed demonstrators protesting alleged election fraud.

The protest came hours after thousands of riot police beat pro-democracy activists, chased them through the streets of the Egyptian capital and dragged others along the pavement. The demonstration was in support of judges who face punishment for blowing the whistle on election fraud.

The Bush administration has said reform in the Mideast is a top policy concern and has focused on Egypt, a key ally in the region. But many in the region have speculated Washington is backing off pressure on Cairo and other government, after the big election gain by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the overwhelming Hamas victory in the Palestinian territories, reports AP.