Egypt's FM: Obama Speech 'Constructive'

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit says President Obama's speech in Cairo next week is a recognition of the steadily worsening relationship between the Muslim world and the United States.

"It is an extremely important and constructive move," he tells NPR's Michele Norris, "because it shows that the American president ... recognizes the need to reconcile differences."

Egypt plays a key role in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Aboul Gheit says he wants to see the U.S. plan for the region, and calls the two-state solution critical.

"The Middle East is tormented and obstructed by that problem, the Palestinian problem," he says. "That is, we think, the core of everything bad in this part of the world."

Aboul Gheit says Egypt does not have a problem with Israel, but he acknowledges "maybe we have a problem with the current foreign minister." Aboul Gheit says Avigdor Lieberman "pronounced himself in a certain language against Egypt that alienated very much the Egyptian people."

Among the comments Lieberman made earlier this year was that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could "go to hell," if he would not visit Israel.

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