Cairo, Ramallah, Tel Aviv- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lauded on Wednesday Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s initiative to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, stressing during a few hour visit to Cairo the importance of the role that Egypt plays as a regional partner.
His trip came only hours after Sisi announced Egypt’s readiness to play a role in reviving the peace process.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said: “Kerry stressed the importance of Egypt’s role as a regional partner and reiterated U.S. commitment to help Egypt fight terrorism, increase economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions and bolster regional security.”
Kerry also “expressed appreciation for the president’s recent statement of strong support for advancing Arab-Israeli peace,” said Toner.
He added that Kerry discussed with al-Sisi “a range of bilateral and regional issues, including recent developments in Libya and Syria.”
Sisi met with Kerry in the presence of the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the U.S. Ambassador to Cairo.
Sisi told Kerry that he was looking forward to consolidating Egypt’s strategic ties with the U.S., the Egyptian presidency spokesman, Ambassador Alaa Youssef, said.
Kerry lauded the Egyptian president’s efforts to revive the peace talks and praised Egypt’s historic role and its contribution to achieving stability in the Middle East, added Youssef.
Kerry spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Monday and to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the week.
There are unconfirmed reports that U.S. President Barack Obama is mulling to give an important speech to announce his country’s support for a two-state solution.
But eight months before the end of his term, the president would not have enough time to deal with the challenge of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, which previous presidents had failed to push forward.
The Palestinians and Israelis welcomed President Sisi’s initiative but had different explanations.
Palestinians are looking forward to Egypt’s support based on the Arab peace initiative while Israelis are seeing it as an alternative to the French initiative.
Abbas praised Egypt’s historic role in backing the Palestinian cause, saying it has made sacrifices to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people.
He also stressed Egypt’s essential role in achieving inter-Palestinian reconciliation.
As for Netanyahu, he welcomed Sisi’s “willingness to invest every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians” and said Israel was ready to join Egypt and other Arab states in “advancing the peace process and stability in the region.”
But Netanyahu has rejected the French initiative, saying direct negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict.