Egypt opens diplomatic offensive

With major armed conflicts raging in the Middle East, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has launched a diplomatic offensive in the name of Arab unity that would reassert Egypt's status as traditional leader in the Arab world.

Calling on all Arabs to forget the past, Mr. Mubarak expressed his readiness to go anywhere to meet other Arab leaders, urging them to rely on themselves and not superpowers to solve their problems which have developed into open wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa.

The Egyptian leader's call is expected to strike a chord among moderate Gulf Arab states, as well as Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and Somalia, which are likely to respond positively.

Mr. Mubarak's bold move is aimed at extracting from these friendly - yet hesitant - Arab states recognition that the time has come for them to drop their charges against Egypt. He would like them to leave the door open for Cairo to step in to help save weaker and smaller Arab states from increasing polarization stemming from fighting on three fronts in the region.

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