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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Mubarak to present new Mid-East plan
A Palestinian mother and Israeli soldiers
The most divisive issues would be dealt with later
The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, is travelling to Washington for talks with President George W Bush on the Middle East crisis.

In an interview published in The New York Times, Mr Mubarak spoke of a detailed peace plan he was carrying to Washington to discuss with Mr Bush.

Mr Mubarak is expected in the US late on Wednesday, after a stopover in London, where he will meet the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Mr Mubarak said he would press Mr Bush to support a declaration of a Palestinian state early next year.

According to a senior official quoted by the French news agency AFP, Mr Mubarak's plan includes a timetable which provides for:

  • Palestinian security services to be restructured, political reforms adopted and parliamentary and presidential elections held by late 2002
  • After that, Palestinian state to be proclaimed in early 2003, on land the Palestinian Authority has under the 1993 Oslo accords
  • Palestinian state then to be admitted formally as a United Nations member
  • Negotiations with Israel for a total Israeli withdrawal from lands occupied in 1967

Working together

BBC Washington correspondent Jon Leyne says Mr Mubarak's plan is bound to be seen as a rival to the Saudi peace plan, which proposes that Israel would return to its 1967 borders in return for the normalisation of relations with its neighbours.

Yasser Arafat
Arafat would be reduced to a figurehead

Mr Mubarak told the New York Times he believed that it was best to declare a state "theoretically" and then to sit and negotiate borders and the future of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and the refugee situation.

The creation of such a state, the Egyptian president implied, would give the Palestinians hope, and help reduce tension and violence.

The thorny issues which bedevilled previous peace negotiations would be postponed until the Palestinian state had been recognised by the UN.

In a nod towards American criticisms of Yasser Arafat, Mr Mubarak said the Palestinian leader had to be supported for the time-being, but could assume a ceremonial role in a year's time.

Arab officials know that any new Palestinian leader now would be seen as having been imposed by Israel, yet another sign of defeat.

Mr Mubarak's proposals are the most detailed so far from an Arab leader.

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says they amount to a counter-proposal to the idea of the Middle East conference promoted by Israel and the United States, which according to American officials could be held next month in Turkey.

Our correspondent says the Arabs are worried that Israel would use the conference to start yet more interminable negotiations, leaving the occupation in place.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jon Leyne reports from Washington
"There is an ever growing number of peace plans, but still no clear picture of the way out of deadlock"

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