Egypt, Israel and US consider holding conference on Gaza Strip withdrawal plan
Israel, Egypt and the United States are considering holding a Mideast peace conference in October to coordinate a planned Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip, officials said Thursday.
A senior U.S. official said Bush administration backs the initiative, which was first proposed by Cairo earlier this month, The AP reported.
Moshe Debi, an adviser to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, said the sides wanted to hold the conference in New York at the foreign minister level. But an Egyptian official his country preferred to hold the conference in Cairo at the level of heads of states.
The conference would focus on planning between Israel, Egypt, the United States and the Palestinians for "the day after" an Israeli pullout from Gaza, the U.S. official said.
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat confirmed the Palestinians had been approached about the idea. "We welcomed it and we said that we would participate," he told The Associated Press.
Debi said it is difficult to provide "substance" on the proposed conference because it is in the early planning stages.
Other Israeli officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, were skeptical about whether it would be possible to hold the conference at all because the Americans have said the Palestinians can only participate if they reform their government. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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