- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has called on the US administration to quickly re-engage in negotiations over the final status of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
President Mubarak met yesterday with the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanied by Special Envoy George Mitchell, as well as Jewish groups ahead of today's state visit with US President Barack Obama.
During the meetings, President Mubarak noted that this month's Fatah General Congress had significantly strengthened Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen's position as a partner for peace, saying it was now no longer possible to use the divided Palestinian leadership as an excuse for avoiding negotiations.
Urging for the US involvement, President Mubarak stressed that the two sides cannot be left to resolve the fundamental issues of a final settlement by themselves.
In an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose, yesterday night, President Mubarak also highlighted Egypt's "laborious efforts" to unify Hamas and Fatah, acknowledging that unity has to occur before there can be peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Defining the borders of a Palestinian state will unlock many of the other issues of a final agreement, Mr Mubarak said, adding that the Israeli government's recent acceptance of a two-state solution was a positive first step.
"Instead of saying stopping more settlements and we heard this many times, now for over ten years. And never come to a stop. What I can say is that we have to consider the whole issue holistically, to negotiate on the final resolution," Mr Mubarak said in the PBS interview.
President Mubarak also told of what he called an "awakening in the Arab region." In Egypt, these changes have been fueled by economic liberalisation, with Egypt seeing a record GDP growth and falling unemployment rates, from 11.8 percent in 2005 to 8.6 percent in 2008. The media and broadcast sectors have been opened up to private investment; in 2009, Egypt was named the top regional economic reformer for the third year in a row by the World Bank.
This week's State Visit marks the first visit by President Mubarak to the United States since 2004. The two presidents are expected to discuss the administration's proposals for Middle East peace, as well as other regional issues such as Iran's nuclear ambitions.
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