Egypt's role in Middle East peacemaking is not a matter for Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to decide, Egypt's foreign minister said Monday in response to reports Sharon had linked Cairo's involvement to a six-year-old spy case.
According to a top Israeli official, Sharon said during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that he had told U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to Washington last week that Egypt could not expect deeper involvement in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks until Azzam Azzam was freed.
In 1997, Egyptian courts sentenced Azzam, an Israeli citizen, to 15 years in prison on charges of spying for Israel.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Azzam's release was not being considered and added: "Sharon is not to decide on the Egyptian role. "It is a pan-Arab role... determined by history, geography and Egypt's [foreign] relations," Maher said, according to AP.
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