US Secretary of State Colin Powell held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other senior officials Wednesday, on the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, Iraq and Israeli withdrawal plans from Gaza. Mr. Powell is due in Saudi Arabia, later in the day.

Mr. Powell met President Mubarak and then had separate meetings with Egypt's new prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, and Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit - both installed in a cabinet shake-up, earlier this month.

The United States has welcomed Egyptian offers to send experts to Gaza to train Palestinian security forces to keep the peace in the area, after the Israeli withdrawal called for in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "disengagement plan."

But both American and Egyptian officials say this depends on Yasser Arafat ceding control over consolidated security forces to Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia. Mr. Powell made clear he is skeptical of new promises by Mr. Arafat to do so, describing the Palestinian leader as a "master of the ambiguous statement."

Mr. Powell is seeking Egyptian support for American efforts in the United Nations to sanction Sudan's government, unless it moves to control Arab militias accused of ethnic-cleansing in the western Darfur region.