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Egypt, Greece Appear to Agree on Need to Promote Mideast Peace Process

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President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ended a two-day official visit to Greece over the weekend following a 90-minute meeting with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. During his stay here he met three times with President Constantine Karamanlis.

The Egyptian leader and his Greek hosts appeared to be in general agreement on the urgent need to promote the peace process in the Middle East and the importance of fresh initiatives by the European Economic Community (EEC), of which Greece is a member, toward that end.

Karamanlis told Mubarak that Greece would do its utmost to contribute to a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict by encouraging the EEC to take a stronger interest in that problem. He said the Middle East issue, with the Palestinian problem as its starting point, has become dangerously complicated with the passage of time because of ideological, economic and religious antagonisms.

The President implied support for the Camp David agreements when he said he recognized the courage and realism with which Egypt tried in the past and is still trying to promote the peace process in the region.

VIEWS ON PALESTINIAN RIGHTS

Mubarak said he was convinced that Egypt and Greece held identical views, including Egypt’s support for the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and its right to be included in the peace process.

According to Mubarak, the first step toward a comprehensive and just peace must be mutual recognition of and respect for the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to establish a state on their own soil.

The Egyptian leader stressed that a suitable climate was needed for the speedy resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab countries. He expressed deep regret over the Israeli government’s decision to establish new settlements on the West Bank, maintaining that this was contrary to the positive gestures which were expected from Israel and which would have strengthened the moderate and constructive elements in the Arab world.

As a first step in that direction, Mubarak called for radical measures to improve living conditions for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip leading to the gradual return of sovereignty to the Palestinian people who, he said, own both the right and the land.

DEMANDS TOTAL WITHDRAWAL OF IDF FROM LEBANON

He also reiterated his demand for complete withdrawl of Israeli troops from Lebanon on the basis of a timetable. Mubarak spoke here before the Israeli Cabinet announced a three-stage withdrawal of the Israel Defense Force from south Lebanon which began yesterday.

Papandreou told reporters after his final meeting with Mubarak that the Egyptian leader had given him a new perspective on the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean region in general and the Middle East in particular. He did not say what the new perspective was. A spokesman for the Israeli diplomatic mission here declined to comment on Mubarak’s visit.

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