Barak Leaves Egypt with Impression he Wants Deal at Camp David
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is determined to seek a deal with the Palestinians at the Camp David summit, despite political turmoil at home, a senior Egyptian official said, after Baraks' meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, reported AFP.
"Barak did not come here to put a ceiling or mention forbidden points" in the negotiations with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Mubarak's top advisor Ossama al-Baz said.
"He was not negotiating here with the president, but he clarified to the president his view about what he expects to happen at (Tuesday's) summit and what he hopes to achieve," Baz told reporters.
"And he stressed that he will be positive and will try to do whatever he can to make the negotiations succeed," Baz said.
"He is ready or willing to reach an agreement," Mubarak's advisor added.
"Barak confirmed as Arafat did yesterday that he is going to Camp David with cautious optimism," Baz said, a day after Mubarak met with Arafat in Alexandria.
"They know the difficulties awaiting them there," he said.
Baz also said he did not expect Barak's political opposition at home to "prevent him from being flexible" in the negotiations.
When asked if Egypt discussed compromise ideas with Barak, Baz replied: "There might be some concepts from Egypt we don't formally submit our ideas because we are not the negotiators," he said.
"It is up to the two negotiating parties to present ideas and we try to help without imposing our point of view on any party," he said.
The two leaders gave neither a press conference nor a press statement following their talks.
Barak later headed back to Israel to face a censure motion against his government in parliament later Monday.
Hardliners quit his government Sunday over what they called his "fuzzy" guidelines on non-negotiable points. But he has also angered Palestinians by refusing to discuss the fate of Jerusalem or a return to the pre-1967 borders.
Shrugging off the political turmoil, the Israeli prime minister insists he will fly on to the United States for Tuesday's summit with Arafat.
ALBRIGHT SAYS BARAK IS DETERMINED TO GO AHEAD
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on Monday embattled Barak was determined to go ahead with this week's crucial summit with Arafat, reported Reuters.
Barak is due to start a summit meeting on Tuesday at the US presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, with his own coalition in tatters after right-wing and religious allies deserted his government, saying he had failed to consult them at a crucial moment in peacemaking.
Albright said in an interview with CNN that Barak, who faces a no-confidence vote later on Monday, had made a "very strong speech" to the Israeli people asking them to support him in the Middle East peace process, said the agency.
"He was elected with a mandate to make peace and he is doing what he is elected to do," Albright said, adding that Barak had promised to put any decisions taken at the summit to a referendum in Israel.
"He's very determined and a hard worker and is coming here to do what he can for Israel," she added.
Speaking one day before the summit, Albright cautioned that tough negotiations lay ahead, Reuters said.
"They know that they have come here in order to make the hard decisions. The negotiators have been working for months and they have taken the issues as far as they can go. ... It's important now that the leaders make the hard decisions," Albright said.
Albright, who will be attending the talks along with US President Bill Clinton, said the president had found it very hard to decide whether to go ahead with the meeting, the agency added.
"It was not an easy decision for President Clinton because we were concerned that the negotiators had hit a dead end and that violence was coming. That's why we really put this much energy into it and even more as we get ready to go," Albright said, according to Reuters – (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)