Egypt reports Mideast peace progress
CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt reported Tuesday reaching an understanding with Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and Europe for a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would include a truce and a peace conference in the American capital next summer.
The report by Egypt’s state-run news agency, MENA, came amid increased optimism over the peace process after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last month and the prospect of Palestinian elections in January.
Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, has taken an active role in mediating between the two sides, and there have been signs of increasingly warm ties between Israel and Egypt.
MENA said Egypt’s plan, which was discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other officials, included the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza and a plan for Egyptian border troops to be responsible for security of the Egyptian-Palestinian border and the Palestinian side of the border with Israel.
MENA said a dialogue among Palestinian factions on a cease-fire agreement would begin in March in Cairo. In Jerusalem, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, welcomed a possible truce.
“If the Palestinians come up with a truce, that is to say they cease and desist from acts of terror, then we shall refrain from acting against them, except in the case of persons posing an immediate danger,” he said.
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