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Egypt Questions Plan to Create 'Provisional Palestinian State' - 2002-06-16


As President Bush prepares to unveil his administration's plan for achieving peace in the Middle East, a top Egyptian official has dismissed the suggestion of creating a provisional Palestinian state.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher says he knows of provisional governments but says he has never heard of a provisional state anywhere in the world.

Mr. Maher was responding Sunday to a suggestion made last week by Secretary of State Colin Powell to create a provisional Palestinian state as a first step toward an independent Palestine.

Mr. Maher says such a state "might exist today but not tomorrow." He says "it is something vague and incomprehensible."

U.S. officials have said an interim Palestinian state was one option being considered by President Bush following the president's recent meetings with Arab, Egyptian, Israeli and European leaders on how to map out a Middle East peace settlement. The president promises to unveil U.S. plans aimed at achieving peace in the region on Tuesday.

Following a Sunday meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Egypt David Welch, Mr. Maher said Egypt wants Washington to offer a balanced Middle East policy that will lead to what he called serious negotiations to realize peace based on establishing a Palestinian state on all lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

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