Egypt, apprehensive of Israeli intentions in Lebanon, said in talks yesterday with U.S. envoy Robert McFarlane that a phased Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon should be coupled with a tight timetable.
Egyptian presidential foreign policy adviser Osama Baz told Reuter after the 90-minute talks between McFarlane and President Hosni Mubarak that Egypt's position remains that "Israel is under obligation to withdraw, and this should be in accordance with a timetable."
"We would like to strengthen the hands of Lebanon to exercise its sovereignty, and we believe that an early withdrawal by Israel followed by other withdrawals of Syrian and Palestinian troops is the best guarantee for the return to normality in that country," he said.
McFarlane said: "This is clearly a central issue as it affects attitudes in Lebanon and affects our ability to achieve a withdrawal of all foreign forces. With this in mind, we have been making very intense efforts in our discussions with Israel in the past 10 days. This has led to public statements by that government reaffirming that it certainly intends a full withdrawal from Lebanon." Israel is expected to make a partial pullback this week to more defensible positions.
In another development, the Egyptian newspaper Mayo reported in its Monday editions that Mubarak will begin a visit to the United States, France and Britain late next month to discuss the Middle East situation with leaders of the three countries. It said he will arrive in Washington on Oct. 3.