President to visit Russia and China in November
CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit took a fresh swipe at the Hamas-led Palestinian government and leader Ismail Haniya in an interview published Tuesday by the top-selling daily Al Ahram. There is an Arab initiative of land for peace, which the Palestinian prime minister rejects. So let him find a solution on his own. I say this with no equivocation, Abul-Gheit said. The initiative the foreign minister referred to was adopted by the 2002 Arab summit in Beirut and offers peace to Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from Arab territories it occupied in 1967. On Sunday, the Islamist Palestinian premier described the initiative as problematic, for it entails recognizing Israel, while we have already made it known that we refuse such recognition.
Abul-Gheit criticized Haniya for refusing to endorse the agreements previously signed with Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization and warned the Palestinian government that it should take responsibility for its acts. When the Palestinian prime minister says Arabs should play their part, we tell him that Arabs and Palestinians should do this together. The Arabs cannot play alone a part that you reject, Abul-Gheit said. Western donors have cut aid to the Palestinians following Hamas victory in elections earlier this year, demanding that the radical movement officially renounce violence and recognize Israel s right to exist. Egypt has been struggling in its mediation of the crisis that erupted when Palestinian factions, including the armed wing of the governing Hamas, captured an Israeli soldier in the southern Gaza Strip on June 25.
President Hosni Mubarak is expected to pay official visits to Russia and China next month, during which a string of bilateral agreements are to be signed, the foreign minister said. President Mubarak will be in Russia November 1-3, following [Russian] President Vladimir Putin s visit to Egypt in April 2005, Abul-Gheit said in the Al Ahram. Putin was the first Russian leader to visit Egypt in 40 years. Arms deals and means of boosting bilateral trade were the focus of his visit last year. Egypt s bilateral trade with Russia stands at around $1.2 billion, with the balance leaning heavily in favor of Russia. Mubarak will head from Moscow to Beijing, where he is due to attend the November 4-5 summit on Chinese-African cooperation before paying an official visit the next two days. Abul-Gheit said a number of bilateral agreements would be signed during both visits but he did not elaborate on their nature. Bilateral trade between Egypt and China has already reached $2.2 billion and Cairo is aggressively seeking increased cooperation with the Asian giant.