Bush Rejects Mubarak Appeals For Heightened U.S. Involvement in Easing Middle East Violence
U.S. President George W. Bush rejected on Tuesday appeals from visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak calling for heightened U.S. involvement in easing Middle East violence, repeating the long-standing American stance that it is the Palestinians who must halt attacks on Israel.
While praising Egypt's role in Middle East peacemaking, Bush also politely rebuffed Mubarak's offer to host a summit between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as secondary to the immediate task of stemming the ongoing bloodshed prevalent in the region, according to the Washington Post.
Bush took a similar stand regarding a recent proposal floated by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, under which Arab countries would normalize relations with Israel in return for a full Israeli pullout from territories occupied in the 1967 Mideast War. Bush welcomed the "vision for a more peaceful tomorrow" while making clear that he has other priorities as of now.
"I appreciate the efforts of both leaders, and I applaud those efforts of those willing to explore opportunity," Bush told reporters after the White House meeting with Mubarak. "But I want to remind everybody that it's going to be difficult to achieve any kind of peace so long as there is a cycle of violence."
While Bush said escalating violence in the region causes him "great alarm," he offered no new concrete measures to help break the cycle and left progress on the two peace initiatives up to Israel and the Palestinians.
"Our government supports efforts to lay out a vision for a more peaceful tomorrow," Bush said of both Mubarak's offer to host an Israeli-Palestinian summit and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's land-for-peace proposal, according to AFP.
However, Bush added, "this goal is only possible if there is a maximum effort to end violence throughout the region, starting with the Palestinian efforts to stop attacks against Israelis."
The White House visit by the leader of Egypt, a key American ally, comes amidst the deadliest days since the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence some 18 months ago.
Bush's emotional comments to reporters about "how it breaks my heart to see the weeping moms and those who have lost life" contrasts with the stand-back position taken by his administration. Under current circumstances, a State Department official said the administration has no immediate plans to send its special envoy Anthony Zinni, back to the Middle East region to broker a cease-fire.
Meanwhile, after a week in which some 85 people have been killed, the US State Department on Tuesday had tougher words for Israel than usual. Spokesman Richard A. Boucher repeated that Arafat must confront the terrorists, however he also criticized Israel for recent attacks in urban areas and against buildings used by Arafat's security forces. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)