CAIRO: Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul-Gheit said Saturday that new dates should be set for the U.S.-backed roadmap peace plan, which envisions a cessation of violence and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Asked if he would propose amendments to the roadmap during an upcoming meeting of the so-called Quartet, which comprises the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations, Abul-Gheit said The road map states that 2005 is the year for concluding the settlement of the Palestinian issue. We are now in 2006. We must put new dates in place.
Abul-Gheit was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
He called for going back to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and for paving the way for the implementation of the roadmap.
Abul-Gheit also said Egypt was against punishing the Palestinian people for their democratic choice, which brought the militant Hamas group to power.
Ferrero-Waldner stressed that the EU did not want to punish the Palestinians. She added that there were international ideas for providing aid to the Palestinian people while bypassing Hamas government because of its failure to meet international demands to disarm and recognize Israel.
The EU proposed Friday that the United States, Russia and the U.N. join it in creating a fund to funnel humanitarian aid to the Palestinians while bypassing Hamas, whose rise to power has led international assistance to dry up.
The United States and the EU have cut direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, whose fiscal crisis is expected to deepen in the months ahead because of a top-heavy payroll for 152,000 employees and falling tax revenues.
Ferrero-Waldner was expected to discuss the EU plan for the international aid fund with President Hosni Mubarak when they meet on Sunday. After that she will go to New York for the Quartet meeting.
Abul-Gheit said his talks with Ferrero-Waldner also tackled Iran s nuclear portfolio, Middle East developments and Egyptian-European relations. AP