- By Laura RozenLaura Rozen writes The Cable daily at ForeignPolicy.com.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is coming to Washington August 17 for a White House meeting, a former U.S. government consultant said he was recently told by Egyptian officials. Mubarak had originally been invited to the White House in May, but had to delay his trip due to the death of his grandson. A White House official said he wasn’t confirming or denying the meeting, because it hasn’t yet been publicly announced.
Arab governments would like the Obama administration to make a more public statement outlining its plan for advancing Middle East peace before the start of Ramadan (which begins around August 20), the former government consultant, who asked to speak on background, said.
The month-long Ramadan holiday is expected to slow down Arab government activity in a crucial period, as the United States is trying to prepare for talks to advance the peace process.
"The U.S. has been working very hard to rebuild the U.S. Egyptian partnership," said the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Jon Alterman, who said he was not previously aware of the planned Mubarak visit. "You saw that with the president going to Cairo …. I think the Obama administration has concluded that this is an important Arab relationship, and there’s clearly a desire to walk away from the spirit of confrontation that many Egyptians and many Americans felt characterized the relationship for much of the last eight years."
"But where this [visit] fits into a broader strategy, I don’t know," Alterman said.
Mubarak’s last visit to the United States was in 2004, when he visited former President George W. Bush in Crawford Texas, and he last visited Washington in 2003.