April 23, 2009

George Mitchell traveled to the Middle East from April 14 to April 21. It was his third trip to the region since he was appointed special envoy for Middle East peace on January 22, 2009.

Tuesday, April 14
(Morocco and Algeria)

• Mitchell met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri in Rabat and afterwards said that the two-state solution is the only viable way to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
• In Algiers, he met with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci. Following his meeting with Bouteflika, Mitchell said they agreed on the need to reach a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East.

Wednesday, April 15
(Tunisia and Israel)

• Following his meeting with Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, Mitchell stated that Tunisia and the United States share a similar goal of reaching an Arab-Israeli peace agreement, a priority for President Obama.
• Later, Mitchell met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem. Barak said that the countries share a strong relationship and that “it is possible to reach cooperation and understanding on all issues that are on the table.”

Thursday, April 16
(Israel)

• Mitchell and President Shimon Peres discussed Iran’s nuclear program. Peres’ office said he told Mitchell that the solution to Iran’s nuclear threat is not military force, but rather international cooperation and dialogue that might reveal Iran’s true intentions.
• In a meeting with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Mitchell reportedly emphasized the need for a two-state solution. They discussed issues pertaining to Israel’s security and economy and coordinating positions between the United States and Israel. Lieberman reportedly told Mitchell that the peace process had been a failure since the 1993 Oslo accords and that a new approach was needed. Lieberman had previously said, upon taking office, that Israel was not obligated to abide by agreements reached at the 2007 Annapolis conference, only by the 2003 Road Map.
• Mitchell and opposition leader Tzipi Livni reportedly discussed a variety of issues, including the peace process, Iran and Livni’s role in the opposition. According to reports, Livni said the peace process is an Israeli national interest.
• Mitchell also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An aide to Netanyahu said that Netanyahu told Mitchell that the peace process must prevent the creation of “a second Hamastan in Israel.” Another official said that Netanyahu told Mitchell that the peace process should involve Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Friday, April 17
(West Bank and Egypt)

• Mitchell met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials in Ramallah.
• Following the meetings, Saeb Erekat, an aide to Abbas, said that the two emphasized their respective commitment to a two-state solution. Erekat said that Abbas also asked Mitchell to exert effort to pressure Israel to commit to a two-state solution and make other goodwill gestures. This request was also conveyed in separate meetings with other PA officials.
• Following talks with Abbas, Mitchell said that the United States wants the Arab Peace Initiative to be part of an effort to establish an independent Palestinian state.

Saturday, April 18
(Egypt and UAE)

• Mitchell held meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. Afterward, he called Egyptian leadership critical for a comprehensive peace in the region. Mitchell later traveled to Abu Dhabi.

Sunday, April 19
(Saudi Arabia)

• Mitchell discussed peace process efforts with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. He also met with Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdel-Aziz

Monday, April 20
(Oman and Bahrain)

• Mitchell reportedly discussed progress on the Arab-Israeli peace process with Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman in Muscat.
• Mitchell met with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa to discuss the peace process and bilateral ties between the states. Al-Kalifa said that he supports efforts in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and agreements based on a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also reportedly mentioned the importance of the United States in providing stability in the region.

Tuesday, April 21
(Qatar and Kuwait)

• Mitchell and Qatari Deputy Emir and heir apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani discussed Palestinian issues and the Middle East peace process.
• Mitchell and Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah discussed regional and international developments and the Arab-Israeli peace process.



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“We knew at the outset that the task would be difficult. We acknowledged that publicly and privately. We knew this would be a road with many bumps— and there have been many bumps—and that continues to this day. But we are not deterred. We are, to the contrary, determined more than ever to proceed to realize the common objective, which we all share, of a Middle East that is at peace with security and prosperity for the people of Israel, for Palestinians, and for all the people in the region. We will continue our efforts in that regard, undeterred and undaunted by the difficulties, the complexities or the bumps in the road.”—George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, September 29, 2010

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