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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 21:32 GMT
Egypt makes gentle peace plea
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Mubarak wants Arafat to do more
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has put modest pressure on the Palestinian Authority to curb violence in order to avoid giving Israel an excuse to ignore past agreements with the Palestinians.

Mr Mubarak said he hoped that the Palestinians' contacts with the Americans and with the Israelis could stop bloodshed.

"I also hope that the Palestinian Authority tries its best to stop violence so that it will not give Israel an excuse not to implement the agreements," he said.

Palestinian woman carrying poster of Yasser Arafat
Mubarak says Arafat is still the man to deal with

A BBC correspondent in Cairo, Heba Saleh, says the remark represents a shift in emphasis for the Egyptian president.

Previously Mr Mubarak had stressed that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could not ensure an end to attacks against Israel without an end to Israeli occupation, arguing that some of the violence stemmed from Palestinian despair.

But, in private, Arab leaders have been frustrated by Mr Arafat's failure to curb suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, our correspondent says.

US President George W Bush has also been pressuring Mr Arafat to stop violence, indicating that he might go as far as severing ties over the issue.

French initiative

On Monday Mr Mubarak cast doubt on the fate of a French peace plan, under which elections would be held in the Palestinian territories and a Palestinian state would be established.

Egypt was the first Arab country to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

But it recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv in November 2000 in protest at Israeli actions against the Palestinians, although the Israelis maintained their representative in Cairo.

See also:

31 Jan 02 | Middle East
France pushes for Mideast peace
30 Jan 02 | Middle East
Israel revives contacts with Egypt
04 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel blamed for militants' deaths
02 Feb 02 | Middle East
Militant group shuns Arafat
02 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israeli PM meets top Palestinians
16 Jan 02 | Middle East
Ahmad Saadat: radical PFLP leader
01 Feb 02 | Middle East
Sharon condemned for Arafat remarks
25 Jan 02 | Middle East
US reconsiders ties with Arafat
20 Jan 02 | Middle East
Thousands demand Arafat's release
13 Jan 02 | Middle East
Arafat aide proposes demilitarised state
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