President casts doubt on US-sponsored Mideast peace conference

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday that without proper preparations or a clear agenda, the upcoming US-sponsored Mideast peace conference will be a failure, echoing doubts of other regional leaders.

US President George W. Bush called for the conference in July to re-energize the stalled peace process and tackle outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians, but the specific agenda remains uncertain.

Until now, I personally, see that there is no clear agenda, and I don t even know if it will be a conference or a one-day meeting as some circles recently talked about, Mubarak told reporters in response to a question about the conference, which is tentatively scheduled for November.

The thing that I most fear is that the lack of acceptable preparations will lead to no results, Mubarak said while touring industrial projects in the southern Egyptian town of Sohag.

Mubarak s comments resemble those made by Arab foreign ministers who met in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Wednesday to develop a unified stand toward the conference. They demanded that the meeting work toward a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians rather than simply be a diplomatic show.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been meeting regularly with Israeli officials for several months about ways to revive the peace process. So far, there have been few concrete results, with Israel preferring to focus on general outlines and the Palestinians pressing for detailed talks on the main issues.

On Tuesday, Mubarak, who met separately with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair and Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D Alema, warned that the conference should not be another lost chance similar to previous meetings.

Mubarak also warned Tuesday that if the conference failed to produce a breakthrough, the negative repercussions would affect the whole area, increase feelings of frustration and strengthen extremism.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected in the Middle East later this month to try to get the sides to agree on an outline for a future peace agreement ahead of the US-sponsored conference. Associated Press

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