Arab foreign ministers welcome US Mideast Mediation
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Aug 21, 2017

The Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers expressed support on Saturday for US Middle East peace efforts at a Cairo meeting ahead of a White House delegation’s visit to the region.

Egypt’s foreign minister had said earlier this week the three would meet to coordinate ahead of the visit by the US delegation that includes presidential adviser Jared Kushner.

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On Saturday, the ministers said in a joint statement they “appreciated the American role to achieve peace” between the Israelis and Palestinians.

They “look forward to the US administration intensifying its efforts in the coming period.”

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since the failure of US mediation in the spring of 2014.

US President Donald Trump, who visited Israel and the occupied West Bank in May, has said he believes he can mediate a final peace agreement that has eluded his predecessors.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki welcomed Egypt’s closer ties with Hamas, calling on the militant group to bring an end to the rift between the Palestinian factions.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts in Cairo, Al-Maliki said Egypt was fulfilling its role as a mediator between the group and the Palestinian Authority.

“It is not new or controversial for Egypt to do its part and fulfill its mandate in these negotiations, it must communicate with Hamas in order for the group to mesh with the overall Arab stance,” Al-Maliki said, following a meeting between the three parties to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

For much of the last decade, Egypt had joined Israel in enforcing a land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, a move to punish Hamas and its armed wing, which seized the territory in 2007 and has controlled it since.

In recent months, however, Egypt hosted a number of Hamas members including its leader Ismail Haniyeh in a series of meetings that showed improved ties between the country and the group.

After the last round of meetings in Cairo, Hamas cleared land on its side of the border, creating a buffer zone with watchtowers, cameras and barbed-wire fences in a concession to security-conscious Egypt, which has battled a Daesh-led insurgency in its Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers since 2013.