Syria's reaction to the agreement between Egypt and Israel on the separation of their forces along the Suez front is now considered a major hurdle in the search for an elusive Middle East peace.
GV Fahmi seated (silent)
FAHMI: "We have told Dr. Kissinger from the very beginning, and I believe he in his terms has conveyed that to the Israelis, that it is necessary to arrange a similar plan for disengagement on the Syrian front."
REPORTER: "Will you be putting that view to the Syrians yourself? Do you feel they ought now to play an active part?
FAHMI: "I think that I have told you before that we are in constant contact politically and on the military level with Syria. As you know, this is a unified command under one commander and we are in constant contact with the Syrians and, ah, we are not worrying about that .."
REPORTER: "Now, apart from the (indistinct), President Sadat is about to announced a big reconstruction programme for Egypt. Would this programme include the early reopening of the Suez Canal?"
FAHMI: "We would start certainly to prepare the Canal for the international traffic as soon as possible, but we have to take into consideration the long years in which the Canal was closed and this may take additional time. It was unusual in a sense, and we may profit from this occasion to enlarge the Canal or to deepen it more and more too be able to accommodate the heave takers more, and this may take a few months more."
REPORTER: "But you would envisage perhaps, its reopening between the Israeli pullback into Sinai and the total withdrawal under Resosolution 242"
FAHMI: "As soon as the Canal is ready technically, you know, it is in the interests of everybody and certainly Egypt that it will be in a shape to serve international trade and commerce as soon as possible -- as soon as technically possible."
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Background: Syria's reaction to the agreement between Egypt and Israel on the separation of their forces along the Suez front is now considered a major hurdle in the search for an elusive Middle East peace.
In a television interview recorded in Aswan on Tuesday (15 January), the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmi said Egypt had told Dr.Kissinger that once disengagement began on the Suez Sinai front, a similar agreement would be needed for the Golan Heights and Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
In the same interview, Mr. Fahmi said the Suez Canal would be reopened as soon as possible. He said Egypt was considering enlarging the Canal or deepening it to take heavier ships.
Mr. Fahmi was interviewed for Visnews by reporter Gordon Martin.