JERUSALEM (Sep. 19)
Less than a week after his historic trip to Washington, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin conferred Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on how best to advance the Middle East peace process.
Rabin’s one-day visit to Alexandria was aimed at giving added impetus to the peace process following the agreements Israel signed last week with the Palestine Liberation Organization and with Jordan.
One concern now is how to spur progress in the talks with Syria, which has found itself outside the limelight that is shining on some of the Palestinian and Jordanian negotiating tracks.
The meeting was a continuation of the close contact Rabin has had with Mubarak as the peace process has been unfolding.
The two leaders held a joint news conference Sunday evening, at which they expressed optimism about prospects for agreements with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and for closer ties with other Arab countries.
“I have great hopes that agreements between the neighboring countries and Israel will be concluded, although there are still some difficulties,” said Mubarak. “But after this step, I think the other steps will be easier.”
“We’ll continue our negotiations,” said Rabin, “but the key for the future will be in the implementation of at least the first two, three or four months of the agreements that have been reached.
“This will be the sign of success and the capability to move ahead, and to solve the other problems and bring about a comprehensive peace to the region,” he said.
CHRISTOPHER EXPECTED NEXT MONTH
“There is a good chance that we shall overcome all the obstacles and difficulties,” said Rabin, if the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian agreement keep their commitments, and if the Arab countries and the international community lend their moral, political and financial support.
“Mubarak’s relations with the PLO will help to realize the accord with the PLO,” Rabin spokesman Oded Ben-Ami told the Jerusalem Post. “Until now the agreement has only been signed, but now all the work of carrying it out has to be done.”
Prior to Rabin’s departure on Sunday, Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Gur, who accompanied the prime minister to Egypt, said, “We are going to Egypt because Egypt is the biggest Arab country with whom we have peace and they (helped with) the negotiations with the Palestinians.”
“I believe that, facing a new era,” he continued, “it’s logical that the prime minister would meet with the president of Egypt and would discuss all the problems that remain, in order to continue the peace process with other Arab countries.”
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher is expected to visit the Middle East early next month to help advance the peace negotiations between Israel and Syria.
Meanwhile, he extended an invitation Sunday to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to a conference early next month in the United States on economic aid to the Middle East, particularly the Gaza Strip.