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Egypt bitter and skeptical about US role in Mideast

As the US Secretary of State launches a Mideast diplomatic blitz today, Egyptian officials are skeptical about the Reagan administration's ability to solve the Palestinian problem. In Cairo's view, the US is not offering a coherent peace plan - and won't because the Reagan administration is near the end of its term. Cairo is bitter about what it sees as Washington's lack of commitment to seeking Mideast peace.

Last week, President Hosni Mubarak warned that Secretary of State George Shultz should not come to the region unless he has a peace plan linked to a final settlement for the Palestinians of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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Egyptian officials say the proposals floated recently do not amount to a cogent plan. ``The American ideas that are being served are piece by piece,'' a Foreign Ministry source says. ``So you can't tell where they're leading.''

Press reports say the US proposes immediate talks on an interim solution, to be followed by elections in the occupied lands. Talks for a final settlement, under an international ``umbrella,'' would be set for September. But Egypt wants an international conference to determine the ultimate disposition of the occupied territories.

If the US cannot produce a ``credible'' policy and persuade Israel to accept an international conference, one analyst predicts an increase in anti-American feeling that could force President Mubarak to distance Egypt from the US.

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