- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

CAIRO President Hosni Mubarak hopes for an "in-depth discussion" with President Bush when he comes to the United States this week but will offer no detailed plan to end the Middle East crisis, Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said in an interview.
Press reports have said that Mr. Mubarak, who will be at Camp David for two days this weekend, intends to present Mr. Bush with a timeline for specific steps leading to a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
But Mr. Maher said on Sunday that Mr. Mubarak "is not carrying a plan; he wants to have an in-depth discussion with President Bush on ways to get out of this situation and proceed to a final settlement" of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
A senior Western diplomat said Egypt and other Arab countries are worried the summer peace conference being organized by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will begin from scratch, wiping out all diplomatic agreements and understandings reached since the start of the peace process in Madrid in 1991.
That would eliminate numerous gains achieved by the Palestinians in the Oslo peace accords, the Wye agreements and other pacts all signed after Madrid.
Most of those Israeli concessions, made by previous governments, were opposed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has always said he opposed Oslo, and granting the Palestinians control over their cities, the West Bank and Gaza land.
Although President Bush and most other world leaders have spoken openly of their desire to see a Palestinian state in the near future, Mr. Sharon on a recent White House visit called talk of such a state "premature."
His Likud party has formally declared that the Palestinians should never have an independent state.
Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi was quoted this week in the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram as saying that Israel is "exploiting" the peace conference "to buy time to create more facts on the ground."
She and Egyptian officials say the Saudi plan the Arab League adopted in Beirut recently, offering Arab recognition of Israel if it gives up Arab land conquered in 1967, should be the basis for a peace conference.
"The question, though, is how to prevent these plans from being hijacked by Israel and watered down by the U.S.," she told Al Ahram.
Mr. Maher, at a British Embassy party in honor of Queen Elizabeth's jubilee, said, "I believe it is time for the Israelis to match the desire of the Arab countries, as expressed in Beirut, to bring peace and stability and security to all the peoples of the Middle East.
"I do not presume to tell the Americans what they have to do, but they must realize Sharon's policy is not leading anywhere other than producing more victims.
"The administration should draw its own conclusions."


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