Austria Hails Jordan-Egypt Peace Initiative
A Jordanian-Egyptian initiative to halt the bloodshed in the Middle East offers "a real chance" for the peace process, Austrian President Thomas Klestil said in Vienna Tuesday after meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, reported the Jordan Times newspaper.
King Abdullah was in Vienna on a working visit to discuss his joint bid with Egypt to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table for talks they broke off in October, and ultimately end the violence.
"I applaud the recent Egyptian-Jordanian peace initiative, which could constitute a real chance to overcome the standstill in the Middle East peace process," Klestil told reporters after his talks with the king.
"I hope that all parties involved in the conflict respond to this plan," he said, according to the paper.
The plan introduced last month entails a series of confidence-building measures, including a pullback of Israeli troops to positions held before fighting broke out in late September, a freeze on settlement construction, and renewed security cooperation between the two sides.
Egypt has already warned that the proposals have a "minimal" chance of succeeding due in part to Israeli resistance to a call to stop building Jewish settlements, said the paper.
But Abdullah stressed the need to press on with the plan after his meeting with Klestil.
"We both agreed that the current situation must end and that we must do everything that we can to help bring the region back to the path of peace," the king said, quoted by the paper.
"The region has suffered too long. The people of the region must feel secure and not dwell on the past," added Abdullah, who arrived in Vienna Tuesday after a similar mission to Paris where he met French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
In Egypt, the foreign ministers of Canada and the Netherlands also voiced their countries’ support for the plan.
Speaking to reporters after separate talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jozias van Aartsen of the Netherlands and John Manley of Canada said their talks with Mubarak centered on the joint peace plan, and Mitchell's recent report on the escalating situation in the Palestinian lands, according to Al Ahram daily.
Both minister also supported the idea of holding a second "Sharm summit" with the participation of the US, EU, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Israel, the paper added.
Palestinian Yasser Arafat called for such a summit on Saturday, but Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said his government would only attend once the violence ends - Albawaba.com
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