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Egypt Proposes Iraq Cease-Fire

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070501/D8OR8M1G0.html Egypt Proposes Iraq Cease-Fire Apr 30, 8:33 PM (ET) By SALAH NASRAWI CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Egypt wants an
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2007
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      http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070501/D8OR8M1G0.html

      Egypt Proposes Iraq Cease-Fire

      Apr 30, 8:33 PM (ET)

      By SALAH NASRAWI

      CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Egypt wants an international
      conference on Iraq this week to call for a three-month
      cease-fire between Iraqi forces and insurgents,
      according to a draft resolution. But Iraq strongly
      objected to the idea on Monday.

      The Egyptian proposal was the latest source of
      division between Iraq and its Arab neighbors. It
      implicitly treats the Shiite-led Iraqi government and
      the Sunni-led insurgency as equals, and an Iraqi
      diplomat said Monday that Baghdad rejected the idea.

      Egypt is trying to include the cease-fire call in
      resolutions for a two-day conference starting
      Thursday, according to a copy of the draft resolutions
      obtained by The Associated Press.

      Egypt is hosting the meeting in the Red Sea resort of
      Sharm el-Sheik with the aim of uniting countries
      behind a plan to stabilize Iraq. It is expected to
      bring together Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
      officials from Iran, Russia, China, Europe and Arab
      nations.

      The U.S. and Iraq are hoping the conference will
      produce a strong show of international support for
      Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government,
      particularly a commitment to reduce Iraq's huge debts.

      But Arab countries with a majority of Sunnis are
      demanding that Iraq do more to reach out to Sunni
      Arabs before pledging any substantial aid. Al-Maliki
      has rejected any conditions on his government.

      Arab nations want the Iraqi government to take
      concrete steps to better incorporate the Sunnis into
      the government and military, including changing the
      constitution and ending the system for purging former
      members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

      Iraq's Shiites and Kurds have long viewed Sunni-led
      Arab governments as favoring Iraqi Sunnis and
      sympathetic to the insurgency.

      Under the Egyptian proposal, the participants would
      "call on all parties to implement a cease-fire for an
      initial period of three months to allow for a
      conducive environment to help foster the political
      process and national accord," according to the draft
      resolutions. It did not elaborate on how insurgents
      could be brought on board for a cease-fire.

      An Iraqi official close to diplomatic discussions of
      the resolutions said the Egyptian proposal was a
      nonstarter.

      "This is not a good idea. How can we have a cease-fire
      with terrorists?" said the Iraqi diplomat, who spoke
      on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity
      of the discussions.

      Although the United States has been pushing al-Maliki
      to reach out for Sunni Arabs, it is highly unlikely to
      back a cease-fire with insurgents who are battling
      U.S. forces as well as Iraqi troops.

      There were also differences over a resolution on
      reconciliation between Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and
      Kurds.

      An Arab-backed resolution calls for the Iraqi
      government to take "constructive steps toward
      reviewing and amending the constitution and the
      Debaathification law."

      The Iraqi-backed version calls only for steps toward
      reviewing the constitution, without a mention of
      changing it or of the Debaathification program.

      Syria is pressing for the final statement to include a
      timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a step
      opposed by Washington and the Iraqi government.

      "There have been some differences in the points of
      view about the presence of the foreign troops in Iraq.
      There is a need for a compromise, and there is no need
      to mention a specific timetable," said Italy's
      ambassador to Egypt, Antonio Badini, who participated
      in the talks.

      The Bush administration has not ruled out sideline
      talks Syria during the conference, though it is not
      inviting a broad conversation.

      On Monday, Syrian President Bashar Assad predicted
      that the U.S. vision for a "new Middle East" would
      fail as the region's conflicts escalate. He was
      referring to Rice's call last year for a "new Middle
      East" of healthy, elected governments and enduring
      peace.

      "Results until now do not seem in favor of this
      project, and what we are seeing now in the east is a
      resisting Iraq, and in the west a resisting Lebanon,
      and in the south a resisting Palestinian people,"
      Syria's official news agency SANA quoted Assad as
      saying.
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