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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 19:22 GMT
Egypt backs US strategy on Iraq
Condoleezza Rice and Ahmed Abul Gheit in Luxor
Ms Rice thanked Egypt for being a "positive force" on Iraq
Egypt has told visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice it will give its full support to Washington's latest plans to try to stabilise Iraq.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said he hoped the new strategy, which includes 21,500 more US troops, would succeed.

Ms Rice has also met Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian heads on her tour of the Middle East.

A three-way, US-Israeli-Palestinian summit was announced during the visit.

Regional fears

After talks with Ms Rice in Luxor, southern Egypt, Mr Abul Gheit said: "The plan of President Bush to deal with the situation in the region is the plan which we hope will succeed and will lead to stability in Iraq."

He said he hoped the plan would lead to the "dismantlement of whatever terror organisations or militias are tormenting the Iraqi scene".

Condoleezza Rice and Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is one of a number of leaders Ms Rice is meeting

Ms Rice thanked Egypt for being a "positive force" behind the strategy.

BBC Middle East correspondent Ian Pannell in Cairo says that despite harsh criticism in the region of the way Washington has conducted itself, many share the US fear of what failure in Iraq will mean.

He says Egypt echoed concerns in the Arab world about the growing influence of Iran, making a thinly veiled swipe at what it called the interventions of certain people in Iraqi affairs.

Ms Rice also met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

As well as Iraq, the talks focused on the new initiative to bring together Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

Middle East priority

The planned summit will examine ways to accelerate the so-called 2003 roadmap for peace.

The roadmap demands Palestinians rein in militants and Israel freeze settlement building.

Ms Rice said she hoped talks would ultimately lead to a Palestinian state.

Our correspondent says this subject is close to the heart of many Arab leaders, who have repeatedly insisted that if Washington wants to see real progress in the region, it must first resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

US officials have said the three-way meeting will be held in three to four weeks, probably in the Middle East.

However, Ms Rice said she had "no intention of supplanting what is a developing fruitful channel bilaterally [between Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas]".

After Egypt, Ms Rice heads to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to try to drum up further support for the new strategy in Iraq.


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