Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama, Mubarak Seek Fresh Start to Strained US-Egypt Ties

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama, Mubarak Seek Fresh Start to Strained US-Egypt Ties

Article excerpt

If nothing else, President Obama's meeting Tuesday with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, may symbolize the fact that the White House has hit the reset button on US-Egyptian relations.

Mr. Mubarak has stayed away from Washington in recent years, making little secret of his irritation with what Egyptians considered to be the Bush administration's pro-Israeli policies. Nor did Mubarak appreciate the way Bush officials publicly prodded Egypt on human rights.

But Mr. Obama chose Cairo as the place from which to make an address to the Muslim world earlier this summer. And he hasn't lectured Mubarak about the need for more democracy and justice in Egypitan society. At least, not yet.

"The Egyptians are very happy to have Obama in charge," says Denis Sullivan, director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development at Northeastern University in Boston. "This visit gets things back to a more normal relationship between two important players in the Middle East."

On Tuesday, Obama pointedly thanked Mubarak for his help in efforts to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

The Obama administration has made resumption of Israeli- Palestinian talks one of its key foreign policy goals.

"We had an extensive conversation about how we could help to jump- start an effective process on all sides to move away from a status quo that is not working for the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, or, I think, the region as a whole," said Obama during a press availability following the Mubarak meeting.

Obama noted some signs of progress on this important issue: Reports suggest that there has been an Israeli freeze on approval of permits for construction of new settlements in the West Bank, and that some Israeli checkpoints in the area might be removed.

The two leaders also discussed their common concern about Iran's potential acquisition of nuclear weapons, the developing political situation in Iraq, and ways they could work together to further the interests of the Egyptian people. …

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