Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mubarak says Mideast peace summit lacks framework

Swissinfo, August 25, 2007

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Middle East peace conference called by U.S. President George W. Bush lacks a framework, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Consensus on issues including the principles of Palestinian statehood should be reached before the meeting, semi-official newspaper Akhbar al-Youm quoted Mubarak as saying.

"Egypt supports the necessity of consensus around all the outstanding cases for political settlement before the international meeting called for by President Bush is held," Mubarak said.

Issues including whether or not Syria would participate in the meeting had not yet been finalised, Mubarak said.

"Until now the framework of what will be discussed has not been specified," Mubarak was quoted as saying.

Arab officials say the United States has given few details about the agenda for the conference, expected in October or November, leaving little time for a concerted effort to help Israelis and Palestinians bridge the chasm on issues such as final borders, Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Bush called in July called for a Middle East peace conference to include Israel, the Palestinian Authority and their neighbours.

Egypt, a long-time U.S. ally and one of only two Arab states to make peace with Israel, played a facilitating role in past Israeli-Palestinian talks that failed to end the conflict.

Last month Arab foreign ministers said the conference must include all the parties concerned, must aim to revive negotiations between Israel and all its neighbours and must be built on previous peace talks.

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