Egypt Expects Progress Soon in Israeli-syrian Negotiations

Egypt hopes there will be progress “very soon” on the longstalled Israeli-Syrian negotiating track, visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa said here this week.

“I’m sure that with the American role and with the help given by all the parties concerned, there will be progress,” Moussa said Thursday.

As the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, Egypt has been playing an important role in facilitating the Middle East peace process.

Now that the historic Israeli-Palestinian accord has been signed, the spotlight has been shifting to the Israeli-Syrian negotiating track, which has been stalemated for months over definitions of peace and withdrawal.

Syrian President Hafez Assad made a rare trip to Egypt on Wednesday to discuss the peace process with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

When asked Thursday morning if he had “good news” to report about the Mubarak-Assad meeting, Moussa replied, “I certainly have.” He would not elaborate.

State Department spokesman Mike McCurry said in a statement later Thursday that Moussa briefed Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the Mubarak-Assad discussions, which “confirmed Syria’s commitment to moving ahead with the peace process and to working closely with the United States.”

Moussa was also meeting this week with other high-ranking administration officials and members of Congress. His meeting with Christopher, which lasted 45 minutes, included discussion of the implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Christopher praised the Egyptian role in the peace process, calling it a “great contribution.”

The secretary plans to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa here Oct. 5.

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