Egypt urges US to play 'active' Middle East peace role

A Palestinian protester jumps over a barricade during clashes with Israeli security forces, April 24, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO (AFP) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday (April 29) urged the United States to help restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a statement from the presidency said.

The statement came after Sisi met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who will meet US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday for talks on reviving the stagnated Middle East peace process.

Sisi said it was "important that the United States returns to play an active role in efforts to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel", the statement said.

The two "agreed that the two-state solution is the only way to bring stability to the region", it added.

Sisi said a 2002 Arab peace initiative should be the basis for a comprehensive solution.

The Saudi-led initiative offered normalised relations with Israel in exchange for resolving the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When Abbas meets Trump on Wednesday it will be the first encounter between the two men, but will follow a series of US contacts with the Palestinian leader.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have repeatedly run aground despite periodic US efforts to revive them, most recently by former secretary of state John Kerry.

But Abbas, who met in Ramallah recently with CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump's special representative Jason Greenblatt, has said Trump is "seriously considering a solution to the Palestinian issue".

Shortly after taking office, Trump alarmed Palestinians by calling into question his administration's support for a two-state solution, a bedrock of US policy.

But he has since warned Israel against "unrestrained" building of settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

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