SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Egypt on Sunday for a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak on the first leg of an African tour, an AFP photographer said.
Biden, who is accompanied by senior White House officials and National Security staff, will meet Mubarak on Monday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
He will also visit Kenya and attend the opening ceremonies of the World Cup in South Africa on Friday.
The vice president had been scheduled to visit Egypt in March, but the trip was cancelled after the Egyptian leader was hospitalized.
The visit comes after a raid by US-ally Israel on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday which killed nine people and threatens to stall US-brokered proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Israel should be "ashamed of itself" for the deadly raid, but insisted proximity talks were not affected.
"Israel should be ashamed of itself for attacking the Turkish ship that was carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip," Abul Gheit said in remarks carried by the official MENA news agency.
He said indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians were "ongoing", warning that suspending talks would hamper Palestinian hopes for the creation of a state.
"If anyone speaks of ending these contacts, he is preventing the Palestinians from achieving their aspirations through political action," Abul Gheit said.
He called for the adoption of a "firm stance" towards ongoing Israeli settlement activities and its attempts to expel Arabs from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and rest of the occupied territories.
Despite a wave of global outrage over the Israeli commando assault, the White House has refused to explicitly single out the Israeli government for blame.
Biden said on Wednesday that Israel has the right to protect its security by boarding ships heading for Gaza, but added that the United States would continue to press Israel to improve living conditions for Palestinians.
The highlight of his trip will likely be his visit to the World Cup, where he will represent the United States at opening ceremonies, and see the US team's first game, against England on Saturday.
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