Egypt Vice President Dick Cheney began a Mideast visit Monday to confer with the United States' top allies in the region - Saudi Arabia and Egypt - on the political process in Iraq and on the West's standoffs with Syria and Iran.
Cheney, who arrived Monday in the Egyptian capital, meets today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before heading to Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah. Cheney added a stop Wednesday in Kuwait to pay his respects after the death of the country's emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, over the weekend.
Arab diplomats said high on the agenda will be the situation in Iraq following the Dec. 15 elections, the crisis with Syria over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and a looming standoff over the Iranian nuclear program.
The diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues, said both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are particularly concerned over the role of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority after Shiite victories in the vote.
Cheney is making the trip to visit stops that were cut from his Middle East tour last month when he rushed back to Washington to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate on legislation to cut federal deficits.