Mubarak Meets with Highest-Level EU Delegation
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo Saturday with the highest-level EU mission to the region since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation nearly 14 months ago.
It is led by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and also includes EU Commission head Romano Prodi and Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said after the talks with Mubarak that he expected "positive" developments in the Middle East peace process in the next few weeks.
"I do have the impression that the situation may be better," he told journalists after talks with "I hope for positive news for the peace process in the coming weeks," he was quoted by AFP as saying.
Sources within the delegation told the agency that the EU is hoping for a greater commitment by the United States that would allow the process to be unblocked.
Solana stressed that the relaunch of the Middle East peace process did not need "a new initiative, but a political will."
The Belgian prime minister said that Egypt and the EU shared the same views and stressed the need to "push the two sides (Israelis and Palestinians) to start applying" these two plans.
"All the plans are there, the Tenet agreement and the Mitchell report. Now we have to push both parties to start to implement these plans. The EU and Egypt need to pressure both parties," he said.
For his part, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher it was time for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act, notably by abandoning his insistence on seven days of total calm in the Palestinian territories before starting to apply the Mitchell plan.
"The seven days is a total nonsense," he said.
The European delegation, which completes its tour on Monday, later left Egypt for the Palestinian territories for talks with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, to be followed by Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Before his scheduled meeting the Troika delegation, Arafat met in Ramallah with the US Consul General in Jerusalem, Ronald Schliker, reported the Palestinian official news agency (WAFA).
The president briefed the US diplomat on the latest developments “in the light of the continued Israeli aggression and the efforts exerted to revive the peace process,” said the agency – Albawaba.com
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