Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu Al Gheit, met on Thursday with the U.S Assistant secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Welch, and discussed with him the efforts carried by the Israelis and the Palestinians in order to achieve calm, and to push the political process forward.Husam Zaki, spokesperson of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, stated that Abu Al Ghiet and Welch discussed the outcome of the visit which was conducted by the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, with Palestinian and Israeli officials, and her Tuesday meeting with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.

 Zaki added that Egypt and the United States are focusing on bringing calm to the situation in the Palestinian territories, especially after the latest Israeli military escalation in the Gaza Strip, and to prepare for a prolonged dialogue which would put an end to the tension.  

 Abu Al Gheit told his guest that Egypt is highly interested in the reopening of the Rafah terminal, between Gaza and Egypt, in a legal and organized manner and that Egypt wants the siege imposed on Gaza to come to an end.

 He added that Egypt is determined to find a way to end the crisis through implementing the Arab Peace Initiative with the support of the Arab countries and the Secretary-general of the Arab league.

 Meanwhile, Welch said following the meeting that the talks focused on the issues of Lebanon and Darfur, in addition to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

 He added that establishing a Palestinian State is a viable issue which should be achieved and that this issue “should not be kept as a hostage in the hands of any party, or the hands of extremists”.

Both leaders also discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the necessity of speeding the election of a new president to Lebanon.