Arab nations decide to attend diluted U.S. peace conference

The event, initially billed as a groundbreaking summit, has shrunk to a half-day event that one senior Egyptian official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, derided as a “coffee party.” As late as this week, some participants complained that they still hadn’t received formal invitations, and skeptics said the conference wasn’t likely to yield more than a promise of more talks.
In a column in an Arabic-language newspaper, former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher dismissed the event as a “theatrical farce.”
Arab foreign ministers on Friday endorsed a 2002 Saudi peace initiative and the so-called “road map” agreement, which calls for Israel to withdraw from territories it won from Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1967 and to freeze construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, between Israel and Jordan. Israel has abandoned similar settlements in Gaza, between Israel and Egypt.

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