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Saudi Foreign Minister Visits Cairo - 2002-03-19


With a major Arab summit just a week away, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister met with President Hosni Mubarak and other Egyptian officials in Cairo. The Saudi official is the latest in a steady stream of Arab leaders to Egypt.

Egyptian officials say Saud al-Faisal had two reasons for coming to Cairo: to discuss the Arab effort to halt the violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and to coordinate plans for the upcoming Arab League summit later this month in Beirut.

Following talks at the presidential palace with Hosni Mubarak, the Saudi foreign minister met with the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher. None of the officials spoke with reporters after the meetings.

President Mubarak is hosting a series of coalition-building meetings with various Arab officials. He met Monday with a group of Jordanian officials, including Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb, and is to hold talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on Wednesday.

Egyptian officials say the talks center on the escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on a Saudi peace initiative that will be presented at the Beirut summit. The plan calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all Arab land occupied in the 1967 Mideast war in return for full normalization of Arab ties with Israel.

In an interview with the Middle East News Agency, Syria's minister of information said the meeting between the Egyptian and Syrian heads of state carries special significance. He said Arab nations expect their leaders to take a more effective role in restoring Arab rights in the region.

After his talks in Egypt, Saudi foreign minister Faisal left for Syria for a meeting with President al-Asad. Syria's SANA news agency says their talks focused on preparations for the Arab League meeting.

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