US intelligence chief arrives for talks

Diplomats: Negroponte proposes that US-led team help police Gaza border.

November 2, 2006 01:43
1 minute read.
US intelligence chief arrives for talks

john negroponte 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

United States National Intelligence Director John Negroponte arrived here for a brief visit on Wednesday after meeting in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to discuss arms smuggling over the Gaza border. Negroponte is expected to meet here with members of the intelligence community as well. He arrived on the same day as Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams and Assistant Secretary of State David Welch. The US officials are scheduled to meet with advisers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. All three are in the area in advance of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's trip to the United States next month, where he will meet with US President George Bush. The three men are in the region as Egypt stepped up its pressure on Hamas to recognize Israel and to swap captured Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners, moves Egypt believes could help resolve a deepening political crisis in the West Bank and Gaza, officials said Tuesday. A delegation of Hamas leaders held talks with Suleiman on Tuesday. Before arriving in Israel on Wednesday, Negroponte spoke with Suleiman about Egypt's failure to halt the illegal flow of arms to Gaza over its border. Egyptian officials said Negroponte and Suleiman reviewed "bilateral security cooperation." US Embassy officials declined to comment on Negroponte's visit. But Arab diplomats said Negroponte proposed to Suleiman that Egypt allow a US-led team of multinational peace monitors help police the porous border with Gaza. He also proposed that CIA counterterrorism experts assist in efforts to halt cross-border smuggling and combat terrorism in the Sinai peninsula, which has been the scene of several attacks on tourists in the last three years, said the diplomats. The Egyptian officials said Egypt turned down the American proposals but promised to boost their own efforts to monitor the border and crack down on traffickers. "This is not accepted by the government, nor by public opinion," said one Egyptian official who is involved in the border security operation.

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