CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak urged Palestinian factions to unite in a common bloc to resume peace talks with Israel, in an interview published Wednesday. Egypt is engaged in consultations with all Palestinian factions in an attempt to get them to close ranks and speak with one voice, which is something that would confirm the existence of Palestinian peace partner, he said. Mubarak was speaking in an interview with Cypriot daily Phileleftheros on the occasion of Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos visit to Egypt. The interview was also carried by Egyptian state-owned dailies. Mubarak urged the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and all other movements to be fully aware of the supreme interests of the Palestinian people. The Islamist movement Hamas, which won the Palestinian elections earlier this year, has been locked in sometimes violent disagreement with the former ruling Fatah party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The Hamas-led government, which Western powers are boycotting until it recognizes Israel s right to exist, sent Foreign Minister Mahmud Zahar to Cairo last month but the diplomat had no meetings with Egyptian officials. The ultra-radical Islamic Jihad faction said Tuesday that a delegation from its militant movement was in Cairo for talks but details of the meetings were kept secret by the Egyptian authorities. Mubarak, who confirmed he had invited Israeli prime minister-designate Ehud Olmert for talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, has said a three-way summit with the Palestinians could only take place after all factions harmonize their positions. The Egyptian president was expected to discuss the issue with his Cypriot counterpart on Thursday. Papadopoulos is expected to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday for what will be the first official visit to Egypt by a Cypriot president in 40 years. Cyprus and Egypt will sign agreements, including for the exploration and joint exploitation of oil reserves, a senior government official said Wednesday.
The Cypriot government said it will sign five agreements, including one for the joint exploitation of oil reserves along the line separating the two countries exclusiveeconomic zones. Others include Cyprus participation in the proceeds from the exploitation of potential oil reserves in the island s sea area, and cooperation for the production of electricity and renewable energy sources.
This work will start very soon and maybe inside the next year, said Christodoulos Pasiardis, undersecretary to the president.
He did not provide any further details about the agreements except to say they were important for Cyprus.
Last year, Egypt and Cyprus signed a provisional deal to share technical know-how and expertise in areas where the two countries have mutual interests.
We have come a long way since the memorandum of understanding, Mubarak said in the interview with Phileleftheros. During the visit, President Papadopoulos will oversee the signing of an agreement relating to the extraction and production of natural gas inside Cypriot territorial waters. This will open new ways for a profitable cooperation between the two countries in this vital area.
Although the size of Cyprus oil and gas reserves are not known, former Trade and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis has claimed in the past that 6 billion to 8 billion barrels of oil could be lying in the sea surrounding Cyprus. Agencies