Egypt: Mideast peace more pressing that Iran nukes
Egyptian stance contradicts Israeli bid to rally moderate Arab support for battle against Iranian threat.
Egypt does not agree with Israel's point of view that Iran's nuclear ambitions are a higher priority for the region than Mideast peace, a spokesman to President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday.
Israel is looking to rally moderate Arab nations around the idea that Iran is the common danger to the whole region. The comments from presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad, however, indicate that Egypt refuses to let Israel side step the issue of the peace process.
His remarks come just ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to the region and a high profile speech expected to address the faltering peace process.
"With regard to attempts to say Iran is a common danger, President Mubarak's and Egypt's priority is on the Palestinian issue," he told reporters in Cairo. "This will remain the priority regardless of the numerous dangers and threats in the Middle East."
Awwad added that Egypt will keep pressing for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In recent weeks, Israeli officials have refused to endorse the two state solution to the peace process and instead tried to shift the regional focus to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The Israeli view is that the international community must deal with Tehran first, saying it poses a threat not just to Israel but also to Arab nations in the region.
That view is not finding much support in the Arab world.
While Sunni Arab governments agree Shiite Iran is a potential threat they are reluctant to be seen as joining Israel against another Muslim nation.
Arabs also fear that a focus on Iran will derail efforts to commit Obama to the two-state solution.
In a much-anticipated speech in Egypt on Thursday Obama is expected to stress a commitment to strengthening U.S. ties to the Muslim world.
On Wednesday he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, the sponsor of the 2002 Arab peace plan which calls for normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for land seized during 1967's Six Day war.