Mubarak, Russian FM discuss regional cooperation

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held “important talks” yesterday over common regional and international interests, according to Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Abul Gheit.

Among the most important issues discussed, Abul Gheit told reporters, was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mubarak and Lavrov stressed the importance of reconciliation between Palestinian factions and the urgent need to lift the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. Mubarak welcomed a proposal to hold a ministerial meeting in Moscow for parties involved in the peace process.

Answering a question about the prospects for peace in the absence of a serious Israeli commitment to negotiations, Lavrov said that hope still exists, and assured that his country will continue to do its best to achieve a solution. Lavrov said Egypt and Russia have the same position vis-a-vis the peace process, stressing that both countries take international resolutions as the starting point for their policies.

Lavrov affirmed the importance of re-activating the 2005 agreement on movement over the Rafah crossing and also stressed the need to take unified steps to eliminate the siege and stop weapons smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border.

On the other hand, Egypt’s foreign minister said that implementing the 2005 agreement will require the presence of the Palestinian Authority at the crossings, which makes a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah all the more necessary.

Abul Gheit plans to attend a meeting Paris on Thursday which will include foreign ministers of Norway, France, and Spain, in addition to the Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, and the European Union’s foreign affairs representative, Cathrine Ashton.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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