Diplomat: Nuclear non-proliferation should not be linked with MidEast peace

A high ranking Egyptian diplomat said Egypt does not accept the suggestion among American circles that freeing the Middle East of nuclear weapons should be linked to a peace agreement between Arab countries and Israel.

“We categorically refuse it, especially as there is no specific timeline for peace to be reached between Arab countries and Israel,” the diplomat told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The diplomat denied that the composition of Egypt’s delegation–to be headed by ambassador Maged Abdel Fattah rather than Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit–to the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), due to commence on Monday in New York, signifies a change in Egypt’s stance regarding demands for a nuclear-free Middle East.

The diplomat attributed the absence of the foreign minister to his other duties in Cairo, which include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s visits this week, and also a European tour that the foreign minister will start next Tuesday, visiting Cyprus and Greece. The  Egyptian foreign minister did not attend the review conference in 2005 either, the diplomat added.

He stressed that Egyptian initiatives toward freeing the region of nuclear weapons are not associated with Iranian moves to escalate the issue of Israeli ownership of such weapons.

“We are moving toward evacuating the region of nuclear weapons and joining all the region’s countries under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with Israel on the top of that list, with all its nuclear constructions to fall under the guarantees of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” said the diplomat.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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