Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali today said that the Camp David peace accord is "the only fact in our area," and should be implemented before any other peace initiatives are considered.
While he did not specifically mention by name the eight-point peace plan advanced by Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Ali rejected at least implicitly any consideration of that plan for now while answering reporters' questions before departing after three days of talks in Israel.
When asked if he supports the Saudi plan, which calls for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war and the establishment of a Palestinian state, Ali replied:
"We have now the peace process, the Camp David accords, the only fact in our area and in our life now. Whatever are the initiatives here or there, it has to be discussed with the parties concerned. Many resolutions from the United Nations have been stated and published, but where is the practical thing that has to be done? So, the only practical thing is Camp David. . . . We have to implement it before looking to implement any other initiative."
Ali added, "We have to deal only with the fact, and that is Camp David. That is our opinion."
Ali's comments stood in contrast to those last week by Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Butros Ghali, who in an interview with a Beirut weekly said unequivocally that Egypt supports the Fahd plan.
"We support Prince Fahd's plan, and are open to any initiative that may restore peace in the Middle East," Ghali was quoted as saying. He told the weekly that Egypt does not claim any monopoly on peace moves in the region, but is striving for a comprehensive settlement "whether it stems from the European initiative, Romanian mediation or from a Soviet initiative."
Ghali added, however, that it would be "stupid" of Egypt to abandon its present commitments "before any other initiative becomes effective."
Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, in the joint news conference, said that among outstanding problems for Egypt and Israel are the East Jerusalem voting issue and the source of authority and definition of powers of the autonomous council.