Australia's foreign minister Kevin Rudd warned today that time is running out on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in talks with Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak.
Australia is concerned because "no real progress" has been made in the US-brokered peace process and time is "running out," Rudd told reporters after the meeting in Cairo.
The construction of new Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank undermines the push for a peace settlement, which should pave the way for an independent Palestinian state and guarantee Israeli's security, he said.
Yesterday, Mr Rudd issued a joint call with Arab League chief Amr Mussa whom he also met in Cairo for an urgent resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The peace process was thrown into disarray last Tuesday when the United States conceded it had failed in its weeks-long efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.
US-brokered direct peace talks were relaunched in Washington on September 2 but stalled three weeks later when an Israeli settlement moratorium expired and the Palestinians refused to return to the table.
Washington is pushing for a resumption of talks and the secretary of state Hillary Clinton yesterday urged Israel and the Palestinians to tackle "without delay" the core issues of their decades-old conflict.
Mr Rudd arrived yesterday in Cairo for a three-day visit to mark the 60th anniversary of the launch of diplomatic ties between Australia and Egypt.