Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher is to visit Washington next Thursday for talks on a new US initiative and bilateral cooperation, according to reports.
Citing diplomatic sources, AFP and the Cairo-based Al Ahram said that Maher will meet with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and other officials to follow up on Powell's speech on Monday calling for a Palestinian state to live alongside a secure Israel.
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 September 11 attacks on the Egyptian economy.
The day of his departure was not immediately released but it would be sometime next week, the sources said.
Egypt’s ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmi told the semi-government paper that Maher’s talks with Powell would precede President George W Bush’s meeting with Israeli hawkish minister Ariel Sharon, scheduled for December 3.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday he backs the US initiative but insists it must be followed up by action.
"It is true that we support the US and European declarations about the Palestinian problem, but it is also true that it is necessary to begin the long journey to a settlement and start applying these declarations," he said.
Outlining the vision of President George W. Bush's administration, Powell urged the Palestinians to stop violence and Israel to stop settling on and occupying Palestinian land.
He called for a Palestinian state that would live side by side with a secure Israel, and has decided to dispatch two senior representatives to the Middle East next week.
Mubarak noted what he saw as a "clear change in position and action from the US government."
Washington, he said, "is for the first time speaking of a Palestinian state, the suffering of the Palestinian people and the need to stop settlement construction." – Albawaba.com
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