Friday, March 12, 2004

Gaza

Egypt has agreed to protect the Gaza/Egypt border when Israel pulls out of the Gaza strip:

Egypt says it will take responsibility for its border with the Gaza Strip if Israel withdraws from the territory.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher made the pledge to maintain border security during a visit to Cairo by his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom.

But he said Egypt would not deploy troops in the Gaza Strip if Israel carried out its disengagement plan.

Mr Shalom's visit is part of a flurry of diplomatic activity prompted by the Israeli proposal to withdraw from Gaza.

It is the highest-level contact between the two countries since Ariel Sharon became Israeli prime minister in 2001.

Mr Shalom said any withdrawal would be co-ordinated with Egypt and the US.

The Israeli foreign minister also had talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, which he described as "very promising".

Mr Maher said at a joint news conference with Mr Shalom that Egypt would defend its border against any spillover of violence if Israel withdrew from Gaza.

"Every country is responsible for protecting its own border. We will assume this responsibility," he said.


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