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Former Secretary of State Pessimistic on Mideast Prospects

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, pictured here in 2011, is not optimistic about the Arab Spring uprisings or chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says President Barack Obama should push to reopen Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but that he is not expecting any major breakthroughs from the president’s Middle East visit this week.

“I’m not optimistic,” Kissinger said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Conversations with Judy Woodruff program. He was pessimistic, he said, because the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties in the region were not inclined to support an overall Israeli-Palestinian peace pact.

“To have a meaningful Palestinian-Israeli agreement, the Arab world has to be prepared to guarantee it and accept it,” Kissinger said, adding that he does not think Egypt’s current Muslim Brotherhood government is ready to do that.

Obama is visiting Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan along with Secretary of State John Kerry this week, beginning on Wednesday. Despite his pessimism about the possibilities of a breakthrough, Kissinger says the president and Kerry should push for possible peace talks “in order to see what is possible.”

The former secretary of state also said he was not optimistic that the so-called Arab Spring uprisings would lead to democracy in the Middle East. As an example, he cited the civil war in Syria.

“It’s not a fight of democracy against a dictator,” he told the Bloomberg TV program. “It’s a fight of various ethnic groups for preeminence.”

Kissinger, 89, was secretary of state in the administrations of presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and negotiated the cease-fire and disengagement agreements between Israel and Egypt following the 1973 Middle East war. He now runs a private consulting group and is considered an elder statesman of U.S. foreign policy.

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