ElBaradei: U.S.-Egypt in secret talks

Dec. 27, 2011 at 9:42 PM
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CAIRO, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said the United States is in talks with Egypt's military council to try to preserve the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

ElBaradei said Tuesday secret negotiations between U.S. representatives and Egypt's ruling military council are aimed at ensuring the country's democratically elected government will maintain the 1979 peace treaty, Haaretz reported.

ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Iranian news agency the Egypt-Israel peace treaty was the focus of the talks between U.S. officials and Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

"The negotiations were completely secret and confidential" and the military council said they were about "bilateral and mutual relations," ElBaradei told Fars.

"But I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power," he said.

Islamist factions, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the radical Salafi movement's Al-Nour Party, have raised questions among some about the fate of the peace treaty.

Al-Nour, which won 25 percent to 30 percent of votes in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, signaled last week the Salafi movement planned to honor all treaties Egypt had signed, including the Israel peace accord. Al-Nour said it supports negotiating with Israel.

A senior Israeli diplomatic official said Sunday the country's new ambassador to Egypt, Yaakov Amitai, would seek to open communications with Islamic officials in Egypt, including the Muslim brotherhood and the Al-Nour Party, Haaretz reported.

The Israeli government has not tried to open official contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, which had not recognized Israel, but Islamic movement representatives have told U.S. diplomats the group had no plans to seek to end Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, Haaretz reported.

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