US envoy set for talks in Cairo
The US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is due to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss the stalled Middle East peace process.
He arrived in Cairo a day early at Mr Mubarak’s request, following talks in Syria and Israel. In Tel Aviv, Mr Mitchell reassured Israeli officials of Washington’s unshakeable commitment to its security. Relations had soured after US President Barack Obama demanded a halt to all Israeli settlement on Palestinian land.
In Damascus, Mr Mitchell met Syrian President Bashar Assad for what he called “very candid and positive” discussions on restarting peace talks between Syria and Israel, which have been stalled since 2000. Following talks with the Egyptian president, Mr Mitchell is due to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.
The visits are part of a week-long high-level diplomatic push by Washington to re-start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians which have been frozen for six months.
Palestinian leaders have refused to meet their Israeli counterparts until illegal settlement activity has stopped. Other senior US officials are also due to visit the region this week.
US defence secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor James Jones and US envoy to the Gulf states, Dennis Ross, are due in the region for talks. Mr Gates will first meet his Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem before travelling to Jordan for discussions with King Abdullah.
Iran and its nuclear programme are expected to be on the agenda in talks with Israel.
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