Aboul Gheit says Mideast peace deal unlikely this year

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CAIRO: Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in remarks published on Thursday that peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of the year is unlikely.

The Palestinian scenario is becoming more complicated every day despite seven months passing since the Annapolis conference, Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying in the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper.

He was referring to the conference in the US city of Annapolis last year that revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after a near seven-year hiatus.

There are no real signs of any breakthrough that would allow reaching a final peace deal before the end of the year, Aboul Gheit said in a speech to mark 60 years of the Nakba or catastrophe of the creation of Israel.

US President George W. Bush has expressed confidence an agreement can be reached before he leaves office in January despite the lack of any tangible progress in negotiations.

Bush is in Israel to mark 60 years since Israel s creation but his visit, which is also intended to encourage the Middle East peace process, has already been marred by violence, with a Gaza rocket slamming into an Israeli shopping mall and wounding 14 people.

Around 100 people held a demonstration in central Cairo to commemorate the anniversary of what Arab regard as the Nakba – the mass exodus of Palestinian refugees at the birth of the Jewish state.

The demonstrators gathered outside the Journalists Syndicate, waving banners reading The liberation of Palestine is a sacred duty and celebrating 60 years of resistance amid a heavy security presence. -AFP

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