- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2000

Egyptian optimism

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is so optimistic about the prospects for Middle East peace that he already is concentrating on the "post-peace process."

"The prospects for a successful peace process are really there," he told reporters in Washington last week as he previewed the visit of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who arrived Friday and begins his program today.

"The negotiations seem to have reached the 11th hour on both [the Syrian and Palestinian] tracks," Mr. Moussa said.

"The region has lived for five or six decades under the shadow of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This process will bring change to a region in which there is no such conflict."

Mr. Moussa also sees a future when both Egypt and Israel exist without U.S. foreign aid, reports David W. Jones, foreign editor of The Washington Times, who attended the breakfast briefing in a downtown hotel.

"I believe American aid should not be considered to be there in perpetuity, either for us or the Israelis," Mr. Moussa said. "The time will come for this policy to change."

Egypt receives $2 billion a year, and Israel gets $3 billion.

Mr. Moussa also said a peaceful future relies on the elimination of nuclear weapons in the region. He called for Israel to open its suspected nuclear program to international inspections.

"We cannot live with the fact that there are countries in the region that have weapons of mass destruction and there are countries that do not," he said.

Mr. Moussa also said Israel can never expect peace from armed militants in Lebanon until it withdraws from the southern portion of the country.

"As long as there is an occupation, there will be resistance. That is fair… . But the Israelis have a right to security [from cross-border attacks by groups such as Hezbollah] once they withdraw to their own side of the border," he said.

Mr. Moussa said Mr. Mubarak's talks with President Clinton this week will be "crucial."

"This is the annual visit of President Mubarak. The peace process needs a lot of consultation and coordination," he said.

"The next few months will need a lot of attention and delicate handling. The talks [between Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Clinton] on that point will be very important and crucial… .

"This will be the last annual meeting while Mr. Clinton is still president."

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who meets President Clinton tomorrow to discuss developments in the Middle East peace process. Mr. Mubarak is accompanied by Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.

• Lee Ying-Yuan, a member of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, whose leader Chen Shui-bian is the president-elect. Mr. Lee will hold a news conference at the National Press Club Friday at 9 a.m.

• Dimitris Avramopoulos, mayor of Athens, who meets D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams. Tomorrow he meets members of Congress and State Department officials. On Wednesday he meets White House Chief of Staff John Podesta.

• Erping Zhang, spokesman for the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong, which the Chinese government denounces as a dangerous sect. He will hold a news conference at the National Press Club at 9 a.m.

• Yuli Vorontsov, former Russian ambassador to the United States, who discusses Russia's presidential election with invited guests at the Nixon Center.

• Gen. Gleuber Vieira, commander of the Brazilian Army.

• Jorge Masetti, a former Cuban intelligence officer who defected after his father-in-law was executed in 1989, holds a news conference at 8:30 a.m. at the American Enterprise Institute.

Tomorrow

• Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia, who meets members of Congress and administration officials. He holds a news conference on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Brazilian Embassy.

• Mirza Hajric, foreign policy adviser to the president of Bosnia, who speaks on the Bosnia peace accords at the National Press Club at 3 p.m.

Wednesday

• Ali Mufit Gurduna, mayor of Istanbul. His meetings include one with the visiting mayor of Athens.

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