Summit shows 'solidarity' with Mid-East peace

The US wants next Wednesday's hastily arranged Middle East summit to produce "concrete measures" to counter terrorism and promote security across the region.

The Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, said yesterday the conference, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh on the Red Sea, would be co- chaired by President Bill Clinton and his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak. Among those attending will be King Hussein of Jordan, the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, President Boris Yeltsin of Russia and the leaders or senior representatives of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and of the European Union - among them Jacques Chirac, the French President.

First suggested by Israel and Jordan in the wake of the recent suicide bombings in Israel, the idea of a conference was instantly seized upon by Washington, where Mr Christopher and senior aides have worked night and day this week to iron out the details. The aim, said the Secretary of State, was to create a "firebreak against the march of events in the Middle East". Washington was standing "shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and other peace-makers in the region," to stop terrorism destroying the peace process. "Concrete steps," he predicted, would come out of the meeting.

But it was not clear whether Syria, which has given at least moral support to Hamas and other anti-Israeli terrorist groups, had even been invited to Sharm-el-Sheikh. Though Syrian officials yesterday again denied the country was a haven for terrorists, Damascus has yet to issue a direct condemnation of the bombings, and last week Israel broke off bilateral discussions here on a separate peace with Syria.

Experts said that with Syria absent, the chances of major practical moves against the terrorists were small, and unlikely to go much beyond the logistical help already sent to Israel by the US, and its pressure on neighbouring states to redouble their efforts to stamp out Hamas and other extremist groups.

But however slender the tangible results, the summit's symbolic importance is huge, as a show of support for the peace process, a ringing gesture of solidarity with Israel from former Arab foes, and a demonstration to Hamas that the terrorist group is isolated in the region.

The next day, as Mr Christopher begins a longer Middle East tour of his own, Mr Clinton will travel to Israel to underline his own sympathy with the horror, grief and outrage of the Jewish state at the four bombings in the last two weeks, which have claimed 61 lives.

White House officials hope too that the physical presence of a US President in Israel will give a boost to the staggering Labour government of Shimon Peres, facing possible defeat in May's general election at the hands of Binyamin Netanyahu, whose Likud party will have little truck with the peace process.

There are also domestic imperatives for Mr Clinton. With the collapse of the IRA ceasefire, and now the bombings in Israel, two peace-making efforts that were among his biggest foreign policy achievements are tottering - just as the Presidential campaign heats up.

n Beirut - Lebanon's pro-Iranian Hizbollah yesterday slammed the summit, Reuter reports. Hizbollah said the meeting would be "a practice of arrogant American hegemony over our region and a consecration of Israeli control over it". The organisation added that its guerrilla war to oust Israeli forces from south Lebanon and suicide attacks by Palestinian groups in Israel were justified as they "target an enemy occupying the homeland".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Sport
bottom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee