Gore Wraps Up Mideast Trip As Arab League Rebuffs Egypt

Vice President Al Gore has pledged continued American support for Israeli security.

Gore arrived Thursday with his wife, Tipper, from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, another stop in a regional tour that has already included stops in Egypt, Jordan and Oman.

During a speech at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy, Gore voiced the Clinton administration’s determination to continue granting Israel $3 billion in annual aid.

A message from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, delivered at the university by Moshe Arad, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, praised Gore’s long history of commitment to Israel.

Gore met later in the day with Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Gore was scheduled to meet Friday with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat before returning home.

Gore’s trip to the region was intended to build economic cooperation among the states of the Middle East.

But along the way, Gore had also been urging continued United Nations sanctions against Iraq and had been lobbying Arab countries not to demand that Israel sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty when it comes up for renewal next month.

Gore’s urgings on the nuclear issue bore fruit Wednesday, when the 22-member Arab League approved a resolution calling for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, but rejected an Egyptian draft calling on Israel to sign the NPT.

The league’s ministers agreed on the resolution after three hours of debate at the meeting, which marked the 50th anniversary of the league’s inception.

Egypt had been lobbying other Arab states not to sign the NPT unless Israel does the same.

Israel, which is widely believed to possess unclear weapons, had maintained it will not sign the treaty until there is comprehensive peace in the region.

According to diplomatic observers, the decision to drop the Egyptian stance from the resolution came as the result of lobbying from the Persian Gulf states, which had come under recent American pressure not to back Egypt’s proposal.

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