Facebook Twitter



Arab leaders meeting in Cairo next week will leave the door open to peace talks with Israel but they expect Israel's new hard-line leaders to reciprocate, Egyptian diplomat Amr Moussa said Wednesday.

"It is our position that we shouldn't close doors but it takes two to tango. The Israelis shouldn't close doors either," he told Reuters in an interview."The Cairo summit is not going to close doors or adversely affect the peace process but . . . this is also the duty, the commitment that we need from the new Israeli government.

"The new government should commit itself to the peace process on the basis of the principle of land for peace and other basic points agreed in Madrid in 1991," he added.

Egypt expects leaders from 21 Arab League members to attend the summit starting in Cairo June 21 - all except Iraq, with which some Persian Gulf states refuse to sit.

Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia called the summit after high-level Arab consultations on the effect Benjamin Netanyahu's electoral victory will have on Middle East peace.

The Israeli prime minister-elect and his Likud Party have questioned some of the assumptions behind more than four years of peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors, especially the principle of Israel giving back occupied land.

Moussa said Egypt and other interested parties hoped Netanyahu would "move toward the middle of the road and try to continue the peace process as usual."

But he added: "We haven't seen as yet any signs of this. The utterances of the newly elected party do not augur well for the peace process or indicate a positive stance."

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher Monday told Arab leaders not to prejudge the new Israeli leaders or do anything to derail the peace process.

"In my comments to my Arab colleagues over the next week or 10 days prior to the summit, I'm going to be emphasizing the point that this is no time to be closing doors or to take any action that would preclude a relationship between the new Israeli government and the Arab countries," Christopher said.

Moussa said: "I wish to assure you that you will find a highly responsible conference, in favor of peace but of course not at any price. Peace has its conditions and basic points.