The Middle East conflict and the need to provide aid to ordinary Palestinians featured in political talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Berlin on Wednesday.
Merkel and Mubarak discussed the plight of Palestinians
Knowing that her guest has taken a somewhat softer stance on the prospect of political negotiations with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, Merkel reiterated her government’s stance on the issue by stating that conditions under which any such negotiations could begin.
"Hamas will have to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as an independent and sovereign state, and the Palestinian leadership will have to renounce the use of violence," Merkel said. "We also have an interest in making sure that the humanitarian situation does not get worse in the Palestinian territories. Therefore we have to find ways of effectively helping families there while at the same time making it clear that the Palestinian Authority must change its position if it wants our cooperation in future."
Mubarak, who’s visiting Germany for the second time in two months, chose to concentrate on the assistance that the international community -- Germany included -- ought to provide to Palestinian families irrespective of the state of relations between Israel and Hamas.
"We’ve debated the Palestinian issue at great length," Mubarak said. "To me, it’s of crucial importance that we ensure the survival of ordinary Palestinians who’re facing even rougher times without the generous financial assistance of others. We have to make sure that mothers can feed their children.”
War against terror
Egyptian demonstrators march against terrorism following recent bomb attacks on a Red Sea resort
Merkel said that she also discussed the fight against terrorism with Mubarak. The recent bomb attacks in an Egyptian sea resort had underlined the need for closer cross-border cooperation and binding international agreements, she said.
"We support the development of an international convention on the fight against terrorism, and I'm convinced this should be done in close cooperation with the United Nations," said Merkel. "Within the European Union we’ve made it clear what our stance on terrorism is and how it needs to be treated. If there were to be a broader international consensus on the fight against terrorism, then all the better."
The Egyptian president praised bilateral economic ties between his country and Germany, announcing that a factory for spare parts would soon be built in Egypt by Mercedes-Benz and other carmakers. He indicated that the Merkel had accepted an invitation to visit Egypt later this year.