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Working on Peace in the Middle East

C. David Welch, Ambassador to Egypt
Remarks Following a Meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher
Cairo, Egypt
June 9, 2003

I met with His Excellency, the Foreign Minister, to review the final results of the summit meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, followed by the summit in Aqaba, then to discuss some "next steps."

We are all very concerned now to move forward with implementation of the steps in the roadmap as was agreed among the leaders when they met. We want to give a push to the good results that have been achieved. The summit meeting hosted in Sharm El-Sheikh by President Mubarak was an outstanding success, not only in our view, but the Foreign Minister conveyed his appreciation for the role of the President of the United States and our interest in advancing peace and stability in this area.

We also had some bilateral discussions on matters that were on the table between us, including some upcoming visits here and some anticipated travel to the United States by senior Egyptian officials.

So I will take a couple of questions.

Question: Do you think that the breakdown of the talks between the Palestinian factions could possibly block any success of the Sharm El-Sheikh and Aqaba summits?

Ambassador Welch: First, I would separate the issues. The leaders at Sharm El-Sheikh and at Aqaba reaffirmed their support for moving forward. They determined that there should be an end to violence and terror as the first and necessary step to make progress. This is what we are working on.

Now, as for the conversations among the Palestinians, I'm really not very informed on that. You would have to ask them themselves. But, we shouldn't allow setbacks such as these to stop the momentum that we are now seeing, the energy given to the peace process and the roadmap by the summit meetings.

Question: Sir, is Assistant Secretary Wolf expected in the region soon?

Ambassador Welch: Yes, he is. He will be coming to the region in the coming days, and I think you could expect to see him start his work very shortly.

Question: Is he going to come to Egypt?

Ambassador Welch: Well, his job, of course, is elsewhere, but he is bringing with him a team and, of course, our contact with the Government of Egypt and our dialogue on these subjects is continuous. Whether that means someone from his team will come here, or maybe somebody from Egypt will go over there for some contact, I don't know at this point. But, you can be sure that the Government of Egypt will be informed on this effort, and that we look for cooperation and help from Egypt, too, in implementing these steps that we all talked about in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Question: Did you have time to talk on the Iraqi issue?

Ambassador Welch: Well, actually the minister raised Iraq and repeated a concern that he has had in the past, that progress should be as rapid as possible to the establishment of an Iraqi authority that has support of the Iraqi people. He also mentioned the concern for the establishment of security. On both counts, the United States agrees.

We're working very hard to build representative Iraqi institutions once again. It is difficult work, but we are dedicated to that effort.

On security, things are improving. The situation in the cities is everyday better, not simply with respect to security, but also with respect to social services. I believe you will see in the coming days and weeks, much more progress in that regard, too.

Thank you all very much.

Released on June 12, 2003

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