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Egypt’s Foreign Minister Urges Israel to Sign on to Non-proliferation Treaty

In the first official visit here by a high-ranking Egyptian leader in years, Foreign Minister Amre Moussa called on Israel tosign a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

“The money spent on armaments and (the) arms race (is) very harmful to the cause of stability and the development of the area,” he said and the development of the area,” he said during his two-day visit last week.

“We have to divert our resources to concentrate on (economic) development rather than the development of weapons,” he said.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, for his part, said that Israel could not support a ban on non-conventional weapons in the Middle East unless Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria were involved.

After meeting with Rabin, Moussa visited President Ezer Weizman, who called on Egypt to help restrain Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. They also discussed the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the region, a particularly troubling issue in Egypt, where Islamic militants have repeatedly vowed to topple the country’s secular regime.

FIRST OFFICIAL STATE VISIT

Moussa, who has hosted Israeli officials in Cairo since becoming foreign minister in 1991, has visted Israel for low-profile working sessions focusing on the Middle East peace process. But this was his first official state visit to Israel.

His trip appeared to be designed to develop stronger bilateral ties. Since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979, relations between them have generally been charaterized as a “cold peace.”

There was a general warming of relations in the aftermath of the signing of the Palestinian self-rule accord in Washington last September. Over the past year, Egypt has often acted as intermediary in advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

Probably the most closely watched item on Moussa’s agenda was his brief visit to the Children’s Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He initially said he did not have enough time for the visit, a move that broke with traditional diplomatic protocol here and set off a storm of protest over his perceived insensitivity to the events of the Holocaust.

Moussa was angered by the intense public reaction and singled out Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin for blowing the incident out of proportion. But after being pressed by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, he agreed to visit the Children’s Memorial.

“You should know,” he said, “that we are very sensitive to (Jewish) sensitivities.”

At the conclusion, Moussa wrote in the visitors’ book, “These are sad memories of a genocide that must never happen again to any nation or any child,” Israel Television reported.

He also visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City and met with the Muslim officials who control the site. He reportedly told them it is vital for Muslims to have control over the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank town of Hebron.

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