Moussa: Bush moving peace process forward

Arab League chief hopes to see concrete developments during US president's Middle East trip.

Amr Moussa 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Amr Moussa 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
US President George W. Bush has the responsibility to move the peace process forward after he held the November Annapolis talks, the Arab League chief said Sunday, ahead of the president's Middle East visit. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said that while he shared the misgivings of many in the Arab World about the intentions of the US president, he hoped to see concrete developments during the trip. "We will be waiting to see what the US offers during the upcoming visit of President Bush, who bears the responsibility of moving the process forward as the one who called the Annapolis meeting," he said at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo. "I share your fears and misgivings," he said to an Egyptian journalist about Bush's intentions, "but in political and diplomatic work, we cannot shut any door." Moussa also noted with regret that the administration was only moving forward on the process in 2008, just year before it would leave office. In their final statement, the ministers expressed grave concern over the situation in the Palestinian territories since last November's Annapolis peace conference. "There has been no change on land regarding the building of settlements, the isolating wall, the removal of unauthorized settlements, the continued call for new tenders to build and expand settlements and carrying out geographic and demographic changes, especially in the occupied east Jerusalem," the statement said. Arab foreign ministers highlighted US assurances to stop the settlement building and "demanded a decisive and serious stand toward the Israeli government to stop the building and to invigorate the monitoring mechanism agreed upon in Minneapolis." "The continuation of the settlement building undermines the chances to revive the (peace) talks according to the Annapolis course which dedicated the United States' responsibility to follow up this course and solve all the obstacles facing it,' the statement said. The foreign ministers reiterated "the importance of respecting the timeline (for a comprehensive settlement) agreed upon in Annapolis and to continue the efforts to hold the suggested meeting in Moscow to follow up the procedures of the peace process." On Saturday, the ministers the Lebanese crisis and welcomed the agreement among the Lebanese factions to back army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman for president and called on the parties to agree on a national unity government. But Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed al-Moallem, who approved the Arab agreement on Lebanon, said that "the Americans are hindering reaching an agreement in Lebanon not only through their statements, but through their acts on the Lebanese arena."