Wien, 21. October 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "Appreciate Egypt’s constructive role for peace in the Middle East"

21.10.2005

Close dialogue during Austria’s EU Presidency

Vienna, 21 October 2005 - "Egypt has an outstanding role in the Middle East and in the entire region", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik after talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "The close exchange of views with my counterpart is particularly valuable with regard to Austria’s EU Presidency. We agreed to continue this dialogue at all levels."

The talks centred on Austria’s forthcoming EU Presidency - in particular on the developments in the Middle East and the European Neighbourhood Policy - and on bilateral topics. The relations between Austria and Egypt were excellent, said Plassnik, and the working climate was based on trust.

Egyptian diplomacy was highly active in certain key positions, continued the Foreign Minister, mentioning as examples the Secretary General of IAEA, El Baradei, and the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, who in Baghdad is instrumental in forging understanding and bringing about the integration of all groups of the population.

"I see both the constructive role of Egypt and the commitment of the Middle East Quartet as an important contribution to the Road Map to Peace", said Plassnik. "The main objectives include improving the living conditions of the populations, the economic reconstruction of Gaza and the strengthening of mutual trust. Israel had to be encouraged to open up prospects for the future. Austria and the EU are supporting this process, not only financially, but also in a very concrete manner in the building up of Palestinian structures based on the rule of law. The common goal is two viable states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security", stated the Foreign Minister.

After their most recent talks on the sidelines of the 60th UN General Assembly in New York, the Foreign Ministers continued their dialogue on current issues: combating terrorism, developments in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan, as well as the EU’s Barcelona Process with the states bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This process, which constitutes a unique format for cooperation between the EU, the Arab states, and Israel, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

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