AP: Egypt does not agree with Israel's point of view that Iran's nuclear ambitions are a higher priority for the region than Mideast peace, the presidential spokesman said Sunday.
The Associated Press
By SALAH NASRAWI
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt does not agree with Israel's point of view that Iran's nuclear ambitions are a higher priority for the region than Mideast peace, the presidential spokesman said Sunday.
Israel is looking to rally moderate Arab nations around the idea that Iran is the common danger to the whole region. The comments from presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad, however, indicate that Egypt refuses to let Israel side step the issue of the peace process.
His remarks come just ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the region and a high profile speech expected to address the faltering peace process.
"With regard to attempts to say Iran is a common danger, President Mubarak's and Egypt's priority is on the Palestinian issue," he told reporters in Cairo. "This will remain the priority regardless of the numerous dangers and threats in the Middle East."
Awwad added that Egypt will keep pressing for a two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In recent weeks, Israeli officials have refused to endorse the two state solution to the peace process and instead tried to shift the regional focus to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The Israeli view is that the international community must deal with Tehran first, saying it poses a threat not just to the Jewish state but also to Arab nations in the region.
That view is not finding much support in the Arab world.
While Sunni Arab governments agree Shiite Iran is a potential threat they are reluctant to be seen as joining Israel against another Muslim nation.
Arabs also fear that a focus on Iran will derail efforts to commit Obama to the two-state solution.
In a much-anticipated speech in Egypt on Thursday Obama is expected to stress a commitment to strengthening U.S. ties to the Muslim world.
On Wednesday he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, the sponsor of the 2002 Arab peace plan which calls for exchanging of peace with Israel in return for land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war.