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Friday, January 5, 2007

Egypt says U.S. obstructing Israel-Syria peace

Egypt says U.S. obstructing Israel-Syria peace
Fri Jan 5, 2007 4:47 AM ET
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accused the United States in an interview published on Friday of obstructing peace between Israel and Syria.
"I believe America is preventing (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert from achieving peace with Syria," Mubarak told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth during Olmert's visit to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday.
Mubarak did not elaborate on his reasons for believing the United States was an obstacle to peace.
During the war between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah last year, media reports said the United States opposed Israeli overtures toward contact with the Syrians.
The Bush administration says Syria allows weapons and fighters to cross its border into Iraq to support the insurgency there and has led Western efforts to isolate Syria over its alleged role in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafik al-Hariri. Syria has denied both allegations.
Washington imposed sanctions on Syria in 2004, mainly for backing Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamist group Hamas, now the ruling Palestinian party.
Mubarak urged Olmert to test Syria's peaceful intentions to find out whether Assad is serious.
"Bring the truth to light, if it's just a (tactical) manoeuvre or true intentions. Check out which peace he (Assad) wants to achieve. Why say no to a peace offering?" he said.
He added: "Now, when the president of Syria calls for peace, don't imagine he will come to Jerusalem. That won't happen. No Arab leader will come to Jerusalem until peace is achieved."
Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, went to Jerusalem to make peace in 1977 but Mubarak has gone there only once in 25 years, for the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Mubarak said in the interview that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in conflict with a cabinet led by Hamas, needed financial help to strengthen him.
"We have to strengthen him so he can make decisions. He has a government, but he has problems with his government. We must assist him financially, unfreeze money and make conditions easier so people can live," he said.

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