Egypt FM Says Israeli Actions are ‘Challenge’ to US Peace Initiative
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Saturday that Israeli actions against the Palestinians over the last two days represented an "open challenge" to US peace proposals, AFP reported.
Maher was quoted by the agency as saying that "what Israel has embarked upon constitutes an open challenge" to what US Secretary of State Colin Powell has put forth as Washington's new Mideast policy.
Maher who is visiting Washington Tuesday for talks on a new US initiative in the region, stressed the need for working to calm the fighting in the heated-up area.
The minister’s statement alluded to the killing of civilians by occupation forces and the non-stop assassination policy of Sharon’s government.
At least 12 Palestinian were killed Thursday and Friday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including a senior leader of the radical Islamist movement Hamas who was assassinated with two associates when Israeli helicopters fired rockets at his car.
The minister said: "We expect the whole world to condemn this Israeli behavior, and to do what is necessary until Israel responds to the call for peace and for negotiations."
Maher will meet with Powell and other officials to follow up on the US official's speech on Monday calling for a Palestinian state to live alongside a secure Israel.
The daily Al Ahram added that the two ministers would discuss the mission of the US envoys to the region, William Burns and General Anthony Zinni.
They will also discuss the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks in the US on the Egyptian economy.
The day of Maher's departure was not immediately released, but it will be sometime next week, the sources said.
Egypt’s ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmi told the semi-official newspaper that Maher’s talks with Powell would precede President George W Bush’s meeting with Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which are scheduled for Dec. 3 - Albawaba.com
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