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Egypt sets conditions to mediate Mideast peace

April 8, 1997
Web posted at: 11:43 a.m. EDT (1543 GMT)

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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Egypt said on Tuesday it was willing to mediate to break a deadlock in the Middle East peace process if Israel put on hold further Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory.

The offer was made in New Delhi, India, on the last day of a meeting by the 113-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Separately, in a declaration on reforms in the United Nations, NAM demanded the elimination of the U.N. Security Council's veto power, describing it as discriminatory.

Twice last month, the United States, one of five permanent members of the Security Council, blocked resolutions telling Israel to stop building houses for Jews in disputed East Jerusalem, a traditionally Arab section of the city.

Also Tuesday, NAM urged member states to freeze diplomatic ties with Israel at existing levels to force the Jewish state to end the impasse in the peace process.

Egypt will mediate if ...

As the conference closed, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa was asked if his country was willing to accept the role of mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian standoff over the expansion of Jewish settlements.

"Any mediation should be based on the Israelis' putting a hold on their policy of settlements. There can be no compromise on this," Moussa said.

His remarks came a day after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said a proposal by Israel to hold U.S.-led negotiations like those at Camp David in 1978 would not solve the problems of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Security Council vetoes 'undemocratic'

The NAM statement on the Security Council veto was a key part of the non-aligned group's call for democratic reforms in the United Nations that received backing on Monday from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who attended the conference in the Indian capital.

A proposal is pending in a U.N. working group to expand the 15-member Security Council, whose five permanent members have the veto power to shoot down proposals without a majority in the council.

The five permanent members are the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

Leading members of the movement of developing countries say that the veto power is often used to defeat proposals from other nations in the U.N. General Assembly, in which all U.N. members have equal representation.

South African Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo told a news conference on Tuesday that the veto power was discriminatory.

"It is grossly undemocratic that the fortunes of millions of people of the world are given to a few people to decide," Nzo said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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