United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Cairo on Wednesday following visits to Jerusalem and Ramallah. She met with President Mohamed Morsy and Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr.
Morsy also met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon after he returned to Cairo from Ramallah.
Clinton met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier on Wednesday following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night.
Victoria Nuland, US state department spokesperson, said that Clinton met with Abbas for 30 minutes in Ramallah. Also present at the meeting was the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, Saeb Erakat and spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh. Clinton was joined by Consul General Michael Ratney, Special Envoy David Hale, and Vice Admiral Harry Harris.
During their meeting “the secretary expressed appreciation for President Abbas’ leadership in encouraging the restoration of calm and his role in maintaining security throughout the area,” said Nuland. Clinton highlighted ongoing efforts to de-escalate the crisis making particular reference to “Egyptian-Israeli conversations.’”
Clinton and Abbas also discussed the upcoming Palestinian UN bid, due for 29 November. Nuland said Clinton “reiterated the US position opposing the Palestinian initiative to seek observer state status at the UN General Assembly.” Clinton asserted that the most effective way to achieve statehood was through bilateral negotiations.
Before her meeting with Netanyahu on Tuesday, Clinton delivered a message from US President Barack Obama, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza.”
Clinton said “the goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.” The task of achieving this stability rests with Egypt, “as a regional leader and neighbour, Egypt has the opportunity and responsibility to continue playing a crucial and constructive role in this process.”
Netanyahu welcomed Clinton and thanked her, Obama and the people of the US for their “strong support for Israel in this hour of need.” He gave special thanks to the US for their support for the Iron Dome air defence system which has intercepted more than 300 missiles fired from Gaza.
“One of the things that we’re doing is trying to resist and counter a terrorist barrage, which is aimed directly at our civilians, and doing so by minimising civilian casualties,” said Netanyahu. He added “the terrorist enemies of Israel are doing everything in their power to maximize the number of civilian casualties. Obviously, no country can tolerate a wanton attack on its civilians.”