Egypt, Germany pledge to cooperate on Iran

13th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 March 2006, BERLIN - The leaders of Germany and Egypt said Saturday that their countries would cooperate to promote the Mideast peace process and achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

13 March 2006

BERLIN - The leaders of Germany and Egypt said Saturday that their countries would cooperate to promote the Mideast peace process and achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

Addressing a news conference after two hours of talks with President Hosny Mubarak, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the need to encourage a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority based on the so-called roadmap peace plan.

The militant Islamic movement Hamas, which is in the process of forming a government following its victory in last month's Palestinian elections, had to realize that "violence is not the way to resolve problems," Merkel said.

She repeated Germany's oft-stated demands that Hamas abide by the agreements reached in the peace process so far, reject violence and recognize Israel as a state.

Mubarak called on states in the region to support the peace process and urged Hamas to accept the progress reached so far. "After that there can be negotiations with Israel," he said.

The two leaders also pledged support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and stressed the need for international cooperation in view of the many problems facing the region.

They agreed on the need to continue diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to give up its uranium enrichment programme, which states in the West feel could lead to Tehran making nuclear weapons.

Merkel said she was pleased that the issue was now before the United Nations Security Council.

The chancellor drew a parallel to the situation before the Iraq war when she said Western nations were unable to present a united front to exert maximum pressure on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"For this reason I am doing everything in my power to ensure that the international community adopts a common approach in order to make clear to Iran what is possible and what is not and where the red line is."

"The diplomatic process has by no means been exhausted," Merkel said.

Mubarak called for a nuclear-free zone in the region, encompassing Israel as well as other countries. "We need to take steps to prevent the spread of atomic weapons," the president said.

The two leaders also touched on Sudan, where moves are afoot to send a UN peacekeeping mission to the Darfur region, and discussed the situation in Iraq, which Merkel said "gave rise for concern."

Mubarak and Merkel also stressed the need to promote a cultural dialogue between the West and the Islamic world, following the severe unrest in Muslim countries over the publication of cartoons in Western media about the Prophet Mohammed.

The Egyptian leader met German President Horst Koehler and former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher shortly after arriving from Rome on Friday.

From Germany, the Egyptian president was scheduled to travel to Austria, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, before returning to Rome for a meeting Monday with Pope Benedict XVI.

DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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