Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Q & A with Arab League Chief, Amr Musa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Q) Did you sense seriousness in the US stand from the meeting with George Mitchell?

A) George Mitchell certainly expressed the seriousness of the US administration about pursuing what President Barack Obama had said, specifically about the issues of the settlements, two-state solution, and negotiations. On the other hand, Mitchell believes in the importance of the Arab countries taking steps. I replied to him and referred to the package solution (roadmap) as the steps which all had agreed on and must undertake. I stressed that the Arab countries are committed to the Arab peace initiative which has many doors that need to be opened and also to the statement issued by the [Arab] foreign ministers in June. They all expressed their readiness to enter into serious negotiations on clear bases and specific timetables but there has to be discussion of what needs to be taken in case there is progress and what needs to be taken in case of stagnation or Israeli backing down, stubbornness, or prevarication.

Q) What was Mitchell’s reply?

A) He said there were still gaps which he was trying to fill.

Q) What is your assessment of the present US stand on peace?

A) We are satisfied with the US stand so far but are surprised, frustrated, and angered by the Israeli stand. There is a big difference.

Q) Has the idea of the peace conference gone? Is it over before it has even started?

A) No, no, it still exists. The US stand is very clear about holding a conference that really serves the peace process and not just holding one after two or three months. The conference will be held in light of the progress that will be made and the points raised by President Obama that the US administration can achieve. The conference will be held.

Q) From your viewpoint, what progress is required?

A) The US political line and building on the understandings that are reached, including basically a total halt to building the settlements, that is, in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the lifting of blockade off Gaza.

Q) Has Washington set a certain time for achieving progress in these steps?

A) The Arab timing is the end of 2009 and Washington knows very well that it should see a clear and definite progress, specifically in the settlements issue on which many things will be built. Otherwise we will be repeating the years we spent waiting for the progress that did not come. From what we have heard from US President Barack Obama, the US stand seems to be stable.