Egypt wants to delay Arab League meeting on Mideast talks

CAIRO- Egypt wants an Arab League meeting on troubled Israel-Palestinian peace talks next week to be postponed for three days until an Arab summit in Libya, the official MENA news agency reported on Thursday.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was to meet Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday to discuss the next moves after the expiry of a 10-month Israeli partial moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank.

That meeting -- initially planned for Monday -- had already been pushed back to give the United States a chance to save troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that resumed at the beginning of September.
"Cairo has asked for the postponement of the Arab committee meeting, that was to have been held on October 4, to a date other than the October 6 proposed by the Arab League, given that that date is a public holiday in Egypt," MENA cited an unidentified Egyptian diplomat as saying.
"The Arab League has been informed of the request for the meeting's postponement" and of Cairo's wish that it be held "in Syrte, Libya, on the sidelines of an extraordinary Arab summit," the source added.
Arab foreign ministers are due to meet in Syrte on October 8 to prepare for the summit expected to be held the following day.
The Palestinian president wants to meet Arab foreign ministers to decide how to proceed with peace talks with Israel following the resumption of Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
Earlier on Thursday, Arab League spokesman Ahmed Eissa had said the meeting would take place on Wednesday, "in light of the latest developments and efforts by the United States for peace talks."
US envoy George Mitchell and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are converging on Israel and the Palestinian territories for talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to save the talks.
The talks are on the verge of collapse after Israel refused to extend the settlement moratorium as demanded by the Palestinians and urged by the European Union and the United States.
Abbas had repeatedly said that he would walk away from the talks if settlement activity continued.

Thursday, September 30th 2010

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