Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said that there was no axis of moderate nations in the Middle East, denying speculation that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had raised such issue during her talks with eight Arab foreign ministers, the official news agency MENA reported on Thursday.
Mubarak made the remarks in an interview with local weekly Al- Osboua, according to MENA.
Mubarak said Egypt rejected categorizing Mideast countries into moderate and extremist ones while stressing Egypt's adherence to the policy that aimed at bringing the Arab ranks closer.
As for his talks with Rice on Wednesday morning, Mubarak said that a number of issues, mainly the Mideast peace process, Iran's nuclear issue and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1706 on the deployment of UN troops to Sudan's Darfur, were discussed.
Rice, currently on a regional tour in the Middle East, met with Mubarak privately on Wednesday before flying to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Earlier on Tuesday evening, Rice held a group meeting with eight foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan plus the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
The eight Arab nations which maintained close relations with the U.S. were seen by the U.S. and other Western countries as moderate nations in the Middle East.
According to MENA, Mubarak told Rice that the Middle East should be a region free of weapons of mass destruction while stressing that Iran's nuclear dispute should be settled peacefully.
Mubarak also explained to Rice the danger of using force in the Middle East, saying that the regional problems should be solved by peaceful solutions as the region was going through tough and critical circumstances.
Regarding the Palestinian issue, the president said that the Palestinian cause was still stagnant and there were no indications of reaching a solution that would lead up to the establishment of the Palestinian state alongside Israel.
He told Rice that he had informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the need to reach a swift agreement among all Palestinian factions, which would ensure reaching a solution to the Palestinian cause and ending Western siege on the Palestinians.
Mubarak said Egypt was trying hard to end the deteriorating security conditions between Abbas' Fatah and the Palestinian ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), whose loyal militants were engaged in a deadly armed clash on Sunday, leaving at least nine dead and over 100 others injured.
Mubarak, whose country has close relations with various Palestinian factions, said that internal instability brought the Palestinian cause back to square one.
He called for quick formation of a coalition Palestinian government with national unity.
"The Palestinian national unity is important to the peace process and to persuade the world community to provide assistance, " he said.
The Palestinians might have to hold new parliamentary elections as a way out of the current crisis, said Mubarak.
An Egyptian high-ranking security delegation was currently holding talks in Gaza with various Palestinian parties concerned in an effort to end the bloodshed and help Palestinians establish a unity government, according to Mubarak.
Egypt's efforts, however, were confronted by inter-Palestinian disputes, said Mubarak, warning that the stagnant peace process could lead to problems in other areas in the region.
He urged the international community and the UN to exert more efforts to push forward the peace process in a bid to realize a just solution to the Palestinian cause.
As for the situation in Sudan's restive western region of Darfur, Mubarak voiced support to Sudan, saying that Egypt could never and would never give up Sudan as its security was related to Egypt's strategic security.
Egypt is keen on preserving Sudan's security and stability, said Mubarak.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Aug. 31 calling for the deployment of over 20,000 international peacekeepers to replace the 7,800 African Union forces in Darfur after gaining consent from Sudan.
However, the Sudanese government has rejected the mission transfer, saying it was a violation of Sudan's sovereignty and an effort by the West to colonize the African oil producing country.
Egypt has been firmly supporting Sudan's stance on the deployment of UN forces, insisting any deployment should first get approval from the Sudanese government.