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Arab FM emergency meeting reflects desire for comprehensive peace
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15:26, July 31, 2007

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The Arab foreign minister emergency meeting on Monday expressed support to a U.S. overture to hold an international peace conference to impel the Middle East peace process with the condition that all parties concerned should be included to achieve a comprehensive peace.

The Arab emergency meeting came right before a rare duo visit on Tuesday by U.S. duo Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to rally support for the American overture.

DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS ON ALL TRACKS

In a draft resolution reached after their more-than-eight-hour emergency meeting at the Arab League (AL) headquarters in Cairo, Arab top diplomats called for rallying support to hold a conference.

All parties concerned could hold direct negotiations on all tracks to reach a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict in a specific time frame, said the resolution.

"The conference should be a comprehensive one, a serious one and the time frame has to be outlined, " AL Secretary General Amr Moussa said at a press conference after the meeting.

Moussa also noted that the purpose of the proposed conference should revive negotiations between Israel and all its neighbors, referring to not only the Palestinian issue, but also Lebanon and Syria.

The negotiations should be built on previous peace talks, he added.

SYRIA'S RESERVATIONS

However, Syria expressed reservation to the proposal put forward by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 16 for holding the international conference later this year to group Israel, the Palestinians and some neighboring Arab states to help resume the stalled Middle East peace talks.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem did not attend the meeting, while his representative Yussef Ahmed, Syrian ambassador to Egypt, expressed concerns about the continuation of the Palestinian split.

Ahmed said discussing the Palestinian situation rather than helping them now would lead to the dissolution of the Palestinian cause.

While Moussa stressed the importance of Syria's participation to the success of the proposed conference.

He said there was a need to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Syria was part of the conflict and had its land occupied.

REVIVAL OF ARAB PEACE INITIATIVE

The draft resolution asserted that Arab countries will continue supporting the Palestinians and their rights, calling for more efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace and end the Arab- Israeli conflict according to the Arab peace initiative.

The initiative, first approved in 2002 and reactivated during an Arab summit in Riyadh late March, offers to extend recognition to Israel by all Arab countries provided that it withdraws from all Arab territories it occupied in the 1967 six-day war.

The draft also urged Israel to take measures to build confidence with the Palestinians and stop constructing Jewish settlements, separation fences as well as military operations against the Palestinians.

At the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday, the U.S. duo will meet with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and the six Gulf Cooperation Council states to probe the Mideast peace process and other major issues.

Arab nations hope that Tuesday's talks will be more serious to adopt a new vision to achieve a true leap in the efforts to revive the stalled Mideast peace process.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Xinhua



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