Israeli, Arab, Iranian Experts Discuss Middle East Security
Experts from Israel, Iran and the Arab world met behind closed doors recently with the US and Israeli ambassadors in Cairo to discuss issues relating to the Middle East peace process, one of the meeting's participants said Saturday.
The meeting, which took place July 31st and August 1st at a major Cairo hotel, was held by the National Center for Middle Eastern Studies, an Egyptian non-governmental organization, and a Los Angeles university, said Tahsin Beshir, a former Egyptian ambassador.
The participants discussed "technical issues put on the agenda by the disarmament committee and regional security issues stemming from the multilateral negotiations on the Middle East," he told AFP.
"It's not the first meeting of this sort; we are part of a non-governmental group that has met since 1998 to try to find agreement on the issues being discussed at the official level," Beshir said.
The group first met in Amman and has since met three or four times a year in Arab countries or out of the region, said Beshir, who also served as a spokesman for late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
Present at the Cairo meeting were Daniel Kurtzer and Zvi Mazel, respectively the US and Israeli ambassadors to Egypt, along with diplomats from Australia and Canada, Beshir said.
The discussion included three Iranian academics: Saida Lotfian of the law and political science department in Tehran, Ankara-based instructor Galil Roushendal and Mohamed Gholam of Tehran's National University.
A Syrian professor based at the Middle East Institute in Washington also took part, along with Habib Malek of the American University in Beirut, Beshir said.
Syria and Lebanon have boycotted the US-brokered peace talks launched in the early 1990s and have so far refused any regional cooperation with Israel, while Iran officially denies the Jewish state's right to exist.
Iraqi scholar Mustafa al-Aani and dissident journalist Ghassan al-Attiya, both of whom live in London, also attended the Cairo discussion, along with former ambassadors and military officials from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, Beshir said.
The experts will meet again next month in Muscat, although no date has been finalized, he said - CAIRO (AFP)
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