Vice President Al Gore arrived here Sunday on the first leg of a five-nation trip to strengthen ties with American allies in the Middle East in advance of crucial peace talks between Syria and Israel.
Gore said he chose Cairo as his first stop “in recognition of the critical role Egypt has played and continues to play in bringing peace to a region sacred to three great faiths yet too often scarred by the horrors of war.”
Accompanied by his wife, Tipper, the vice president was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Atef Sedky.
Gore also will visit Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Israel and meet in Jericho with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat.
Gore told reporters accompanying him that his visit was part of a full-court press by President Clinton to advance the peace process. Syrian and Israeli negotiators are to resume talks in Washington this week after a long impasse.
Further, Jordan’s King Hussein and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are to make separate visits to Washington over the next two weeks. Gore was slated to meet with Mubarak today.
“We will discuss ways we can strengthen the relations between our countries and contribute to peace and prosperity in region,” the vice president said. “For over 15 years, Egypt has been our partner in peace.”
Both Gore and the prime minister stressed the importance of strengthening economic ties with Egypt. Gore is to sign an agreement to promote economic growth and development between the private sector of the United States and Egypt.
“The private sector must be the engine if our partnership is to flourish,” Gore said.