Egyptian President to Meet Bush Monday on Middle East Peace
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the first Arab leader to meet President George W. Bush, is expected to try and persuade the new US president to take a more active role in the Middle East peace process, said reports.
Mubarak, who arrived Saturday and is scheduled to meet Monday with Bush, chose not to hide his unhappiness with the US administration's unwillingness to mediate a peace deal, said AFP.
"The United States cannot just take its hands off. It has to work to narrow the gap (between the Palestinians) and the Israelis," Mubarak stressed in a lengthy interview with Newsweek magazine released Saturday.
Mubarak's visit comes just two weeks after Bush received Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and a week before Jordanian King Abdullah II comes to town.
Bush has repeatedly stated that his administration will not "force peace" in the region, signaling a departure from the aggressive pursuit of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians undertaken by his predecessor, Bill Clinton.
"The new administration may not have a picture of what's going on," Mubarak told Newsweek. "I'm going to tell them what I feel."
Meanwhile, US officials told The Jerusalem Post newspaper that Bush will ask Mubarak to press Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to call for an end to violence, and will urge the Egyptian leader to return his ambassador to Israel.
"President Mubarak is a pivotal player among those who advocate peace in the region. He has publicly condemned calls for violence against Israel and spoken out against economic boycotts of American goods," an official said.
However, he said that without an ambassador in Israel, Mubarak has "one eye closed," and promised the administration would urge the Egyptian president to return an envoy to Tel Aviv.
But Egyptian officials say that the move is unlikely, particularly with no abeyance in the number of Palestinian casualties, said the paper - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)