Egyptian - French talks: Start of Syrian-Israeli talks unsettled , regional issues
Egypt-France, Politics, 11/13/1999
Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said that the visit paid by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine is part of the Egyptian-French diplomatic follow-up on the peace process.
Moussa, answering press questions, said that the French Minister's negotiations will deal with exchanging points of view on the phase the peace process is passing through and related possibilities and obstacles.
Answering a question on what France could contribute to the peace process, Moussa said France can do that by insisting on remaining inside the process's sound framework of the land-for-peace principle, the implementation of existing agreements and the resumption of negotiations on all tracks.
Vedrine expressed regret that terms for the resumption of direct Syrian-Israeli negotiations had not been met yet, adding that real Middle East peace would never materialize without a Syrian-Israeli agreement.
At a joint press conference with Moussa today at the end of a two-hour session of negotiations, he said that the starting point for the resumption of Syrian-Israeli negotiations had not been settled yet.
"Constant and regular Egyptian-French consultations have become very important to Paris," he said.
He referred to President Hosni Mubarak`s meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in Paris a few days ago, adding that these meetings are not just merely periodical contacts, but in reality a permanent system to exchange views and jointly analyze various issues.
Vedrine's talks with Moussa tackled the developments of the peace process that, he further said, "worries us all these days." "We share the same hopes and the same worries and seek constant coordination," he added.
Moussa, on his part, told the press conference that he and Vedrine discussed at length issues of mutual concern such as bilateral relations, Middle East peace, Sudan and Iraq.
"The talks were important, intensive and expanded," he added. "Discussions have reflected the depth of the relationship binding the two countries and their determination to deepen and continue consultations on the various issues," he said.
"The talks were important because they came in the wake of Mubarak`s visit to Paris last week," he added.
On the Syrian-Israeli track of talks, stalled since February 1996, Vedrine said the two sides should exert more efforts.
He maintained that Egypt plays a facilitator role in the negotiating process, adding that this role will continue. Moussa told reporters that the Egyptian and French diplomacy have a consensus vis-a-vis issues of interest to the Mediterranean countries and the Middle East peacemaking.
As continuation and coordination continue, said Moussa, it comes out that the two countries proceed towards identical goals.
Moussa was asked on the contradiction between the Israeli government's "deeds" and "words" regarding the Arab-Israeli peace talks. In reply, he said this contradiction will create plenty of question marks on the true intentions of the Israeli government. "Unless UN Security Council resolution 242 is applied, the land-for-peace principle is respected and the Israeli settlement activities are frozen, there must be a mistake which should be addressed," said Moussa.
Moussa compared between the "desperate" state of affairs, witnessed in the Middle East peace process some months ago and the "different" peace stances since Ehud Barak has taken over as Israeli Premier.
Vedrine, addressing reporters, said that achieving results on the Palestinian-Israeli track is conditioned to the maintenance of a great extent of courage. "As long as the stands, declared at the beginning remain the same, it will not be possible to achieve the desired outcome," said Vedrine.
On the Syrian-Israeli track of talks, Vedrine said that what really matters is to come up with a formula allowing the resumption of the talks.
Describing Egyptian-French ties as "sustained," Vedrine said the two countries exchange information and analysis and, accordingly, set goals right.
He said the Egyptian-French peace initiative, launched last year, remains possible if needed.
Vedrine replied in the negative when asked if Israel has a veto against European involvement in the Middle East peace process. He said Paris is convinced that it can play a useful role in the peace process, but cannot replace the main negotiators in reaching results.
Asked on the Libya-West crisis, Vedrine said the anti-Libya sanctions have been suspended, creating a fresh state of affairs for all. The international sanctions have been suspended after the two Libyan nationals suspected of involvement in blowing up a Pan-AM airliner were handed over by Tripoli.
The French official was asked to comment on French President Jacques Chirac's proposals for holding an Euro-Mediterranean summit.
He said the called-for summit could be possible when a favorable regional climate is created, particularly on the Middle East tracks of peace. The proposed summit, said Vedrine, would discuss security of the Mediterranean basin region and promotion of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
Moussa was asked on the outcome of Egyptian-Libyan efforts for reconciliation in Sudan and a possible French contribution to these efforts. The Sudanese issue, he said, was discussed at last week's Paris talks held by President Hosni Mubarak with French President Jacques Chirac, adding that the two leaders agreed to pursue consultations over the issue at the various levels. "The Sudanese issue is now high on the agenda of Egyptian diplomacy. France also gives due attention to the issue," said Moussa.
"Goals of the Sudan-related efforts are intended to ensure Sudan's unity and create a new Sudan acceptable to all parties concerned," he said.
Moussa said Egypt and France support the Sudan initiative of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). "There is also an Egyptian-Libyan initiative because initiatives are not confined to one side of Sudan's neighbors," said Moussa.
The Foreign Minister explained that the Egyptian-Libyan initiative is not competing the (IGAD) proposals, which he described as reasonable.
"All neighbors of Sudan have the right to give a hand in the Sudanese problem through submitting constructive initiatives," said Moussa. "Egypt and France will have joint cooperation in light of the (IGAD) and Egyptian-Libyan initiatives," he said.
The French Foreign Minister, on his part, said aims of the Egyptian-Libyan initiative go in line with the French goals.
Vedrine left Cairo Saturday after a two-day visit to Egypt as part of a regional tour, which earlier took him to Syria and Lebanon.
The French official had a flurry of talks with Egyptian officials on Middle East peace.
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