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Egypt says fix Palestinian state borders first

Written by: Staff

CAIRO, Sep 10 (Reuters) Egypt today proposed a West Asia peace plan based on fixing in advance the borders and other details of a Palestinian state and then setting up negotiations to turn the concept into a reality on the ground.

The approach is a radical departure from the one which has dominated West Asia diplomacy for most of the past 15 years, which was based on persuading Israelis and Palestinians to build confidence gradually through small steps.

The Egyptian idea is similar to the concept proposed by King Abdullah of Jordan in an interview in the latest edition of Time magazine. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak flew to Jordan earlier in the day to coordinate plans with King Abdullah.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit gave details of the new initiative at a news conference after talks with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Aboul Gheit said: ''The necessary thinking which everyone must focus on ... is on how to conceptualise what is referred to as the endgame. The endgame is the Palestinian state.'' ''If we agree on a Palestinian state, its borders and its parameters, then we can deal from there, through negotiations, to try and achieve this aim,'' he added.

The most recent West Asia document accepted by the main parties -- the ''road map'' released in 2003 -- leaves details of the Palestinian state to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

But the road map, which is backed by the United States, United Nations and the European Union, has not produced any significant progress towards regional peace.

In his interview with Time, King Abdullah said peace negotiations would be helpful in the short term.

But he added: ''We want to jump ahead to something tangible. We need to get to the point where people want to sign on the dotted line. We want to move to a two-state solution, but we are not going to go back and forth with lawyers until we get there.'' More Reuters PKS DB2324

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