Egypt duo to hold Washington talks on peace process

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CAIRO: Egypt’s intelligence chief and foreign minister are to travel to Washington on Tuesday for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the floundering Middle East peace process, the state-owned daily Al-Ahram reported.

The visit by Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Aboul Gheit will overlap with one by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to meet Clinton on Thursday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told Al-Ahram that the Egyptian delegation would discuss ways out of the current "blocked path" in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Suleiman met Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Thursday after he and Aboul Gheit held West Bank talks late last month with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were relaunched in Washington on Sept. 2 but broke down barely three weeks later with the expiry of an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu has stubbornly refused to reimpose the restrictions, despite a range of US incentives to do so, and the Palestinians have said they will not return to the negotiating table while Israel builds on land they want for a future state.

US-led diplomatic efforts to unblock the process have been unfruitful, although the administration is expected to step up pressure on both sides after the mid-term US elections.

In early October, Arab League foreign ministers said they would give Washington a month’s grace period to break the impasse, but last week extended that until the end of the month, a Palestinian official told AFP on Friday.

Egypt is one of two Arab countries, with Jordan, that have diplomatic ties with Israel. It has often mediated between Israel and the Palestinians.

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