CAIRO: Egypt hosted a mini-summit of Arab leaders Wednesday to address the issues splitting the region, particularly the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon and the divisions among the Palestinians.
President Hosni Mubarak met with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas and they were joined later by King Abdullah of Jordan. The presidential spokesman told reporters afterwards that the president had also met with an envoy from the United Arab Emirates to discuss how improve inter-Arab relations.
Spokesman Suleiman Awwad said in particular they discussed efforts to heal the feud between Abbas Fatah faction and Hamas, which has split the rule of the Palestinian territories.
Saudi Arabia and Yemen were exerting efforts to reconcile the two groups but it seems until now there is no chance to do that and hopes are fading of achieving a breakthrough.
Solving the Lebanese political deadlock, in which different Arab countries are backing rival factions, is the key to a real breakthrough in ending the Arab differences, the president was quoted as saying.
Egyptian and Saudi anger over Syria s role in the Lebanese crisis led to those countries leaders refusing to attend the summit, which has been followed by a flurry of diplomatic activity Cairo, including a visit by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika right afterwards.
Abbas, who visited Saudi Arabia Tuesday before coming to Egypt, told reporters after his meeting with Mubarak before King Abdullah II joined them, that he cannot say that there was progress in talks with the Israeli side.
Talks are conducted in depth, but without having something written about what has been achieved, we can t talk about progress. Talks are now merely exchanging opinions, dialogue and deep negotiations, he said.
Abbas also said a peaceful settlement may not be achieved at the end of 2008 as the US administration had suggested as there is a serious talk about that commitment by the three parties but he said he could not say for certain it would happen by the stated deadline.