UN: Egyptian Stability Important For Mideast Peace

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MUNICH (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday he was concerned that the unrest in Egypt could have "serious implications" for the Middle East peace process.

Ban, who was in Munich for an annual security conference, told a small group of reporters at his hotel that President Hosni Mubarak and the Egyptian government have been key in the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

"This is why we are concerned," he said.

"Egypt has been playing a very strategic role in the Mideastern peace process; President Mubarak was one of the key players in trying to facilitate reconciliation."

Mubarak has said he won't seek another term in office but demonstrators are demanding that he go now.

On Saturday Ban met with the so-called Quartet of Mideast peacemakers - the U.N., the U.S. the EU and Russia - on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

The group said in a statement that in view of the developments in the Mideast, "further delay in the resumption of negotiations is detrimental to the prospects for regional peace and security."

Frank Wisner, a U.S. envoy who met with Mubarak over the past week, told the conference Saturday that the Egyptian president's leadership remains crucial for now, as the country heads into a transition to democracy.

Ban would not say whether he thought Mubarak should stay on at the moment - saying that was up to the Egyptian people - but did say the U.N. is concerned that any move to a new government is a smooth one.

"We would like to see a transition take place in an orderly and peaceful manner without having any negative sudden impact on the overall peace and stability in this region," he said.

Heading in to the conference, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Associated Press Television News that he expects the turmoil in the Middle East to cause a rise of energy prices, but that he does not fear a rapid spike.

"I believe that all responsible, the traders and supplying countries, will do everything to ensure stable oil supplies, especially at this time of year, "he said.

He added that he expects that the Suez Canal will remain open, but also said it is not the only transport route available.

"It is possible to detour around it," he said.
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