Israel has pressured Egypt to block its lobbying against it at a U.N. nuclear review meeting by urging Cairo at top-level talks to view Iran's nuclear programme as the "regional threat", an Israeli official said on Tuesday.
The message was relayed by the delegation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference began in New York.
While both sides said the Sharm talks focused on talks efforts with Palestine, there was also a brief discussion of Egypt's call on Western powers to support its longstanding demand that Israel join the NPT, a senior Israeli official said.
"Remember, Iran is the real problem," the official quoted an Israeli delegate as telling the Egyptians.
Asked to characterise the response from Mubarak's delegation, the official said: "They know Iran is the problem, but they feel they can't support a campaign against Iran without also putting pressure on Israel."
Some 189 nations convened for the month-long U.N. meeting to discuss means to shore up the fraying NPT, which dates to 1970.
By staying outside the NPT, Israel has not had to forswear nuclear arms nor admit U.N. inspectors to facilities where analysts believe it produced the region's only atomic arsenal.
Israel has rejected to open capabilities to international officials, but Arabs and Iran are aggrieved by the idea of an Israeli nuclear monopoly enjoying tacit U.S. backing.
Western diplomats have said the United States, Britain and France may try to accommodate Egypt at the conference by encouraging Israel to join proposed talks about measures to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.
That initiative would require Israel to sign the NPT, says Egypt, which has publicly described curbing Israel's assumed nuclear arms as a higher priority than Iran's latent abilities.
Egypt suggested that merely broaching a deal for nuclear disarmament could bring about de facto engagement between regional foes.
"If major countries wish to address Iran's nuclear dossier, they can do that by bringing Israel and Iran to the negotiating table," Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz told Al-Ahram newspaper in an interview last week.
"That would allow the meeting to confront them and address their nuclear fears," he said. "Iran may end up having to make some concessions in return for Israel doing the same, or for Israel agreeing to the creation of a nuclear-free zone and disposing of its ill-defined nuclear capabilities."
ReutersLast Mod: 05 Mayıs 2010, 09:02