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US Mideast Peace Envoy Visits Egypt, Jordan


US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell met with top Egyptian officials, Thursday, to discuss prospects for resuming Arab-Israeli peace talks. Mitchell conferred with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, as well as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, before heading off to Jordan.

US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell continued his shuttle-diplomacy, Thursday, meeting with top Egyptian officials in Cairo.

The former senator emphasized that the Obama administration was toiling to bring about a rapid resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that would lead to a two-state solution for both sides.

Mitchell, at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the U.S. supports the two-state solution, alongside a complete normalization between Arab states and Israel.

"The president and the secretary of state have made American policy clear," Mitchell said. "We are working hard to achieve our objective of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel, and also including peace between Israel and its other immediate neighbors and full normalization of relations between Israel and all of the Arab nations as contemplated by the Arab peace initiative, which as the president has said, is an important proposal that we are seeking to integrate, fully, into our efforts."

Egypt has been pushing for a two-state solution to solve the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Egyptian TV, Wednesday, that Israel "will agree to a two-state solution because it has no other choice."

Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit noted, after meeting with Mitchell, said that the U.S. is now committed to that two-state solution, as well as a halt to Israeli settlement activity.

The Egyptian foreign minister said Mitchell told him the American side was committed to the two state solution and the necessity of establishing a Palestinian state.

An Arab peace plan, proposed by Saudi Arabia during a 2002 summit in Beirut, stresses the need for an independent Palestinian state, in addition to a halt to Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, until now, refused to endorse a two-state solution, despite a recent visit to the White House.

Senator Mitchell also met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who has repeated, in recent months, that Israel must accept the Arab peace proposal, soon, "since it will not be on the table forever." Moussa said that the choice for peace was up to Israel.

"The question of settlements is a sine qua non, the question of two states is basic," Moussa said. "The question of a peace process, a comprehensive peace process, is the goal. If one of the parties does not want to cooperate at all, than we will have to have a firm stand vis-a-vis such an attitude. On the contrary, if there is a movement, an acceptance, understanding that there must be steps, significant steps forward, then all parties will have to do the same. And we, as you know, the Arab side, has put his offer of peace on the table."

U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized his commitment to resuming stalled Middle East peace talks during an address to the Arab world in Cairo, on June 4.

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