(photo credit: Associated Press)
Three days after the Arab League gave a reluctant Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas a green light to begin direct talks with Israel – if he
so decided – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met President Shimon Peres in
Cairo on Sunday and agreed that the current “window of opportunity” should not
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Peres’s office released a statement after the two-hour
meeting, saying both the Israeli president and Mubarak “fully supported direct
peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and emphasized that the element
of time was critical, and that the sides should not miss the window of
opportunity that now exists.”
Following his private meeting with Mubarak,
Peres held a working lunch with the Egyptian president, whom he last met in
November, and was joined by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and
Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
According to Peres’s statement, the
president stressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s sincerity in wanting to
begin immediate, “serious and comprehensive” talks with the Palestinians to
reach an agreement based on the principle of two states for two
Peres thanked Mubarak for standing firm against extremists
trying to cause war and destruction in the Middle East.
Egyptian mothers and sons owe you a debt of gratitude,” Peres said.
also thanked him for his efforts to secure the release of kidnapped soldier
The statement said Peres and Mubarak also discussed Iran’s
nuclear program and the sanctions passed against Teheran, as well as ways to
strengthen strategic ties between Israel and Egypt.
With Suleiman and
Gheit present, Peres and his host agreed to the formation of a joint team that
would be responsible for finding information on Israeli soldiers missing in
Egypt since the Yom Kippur War. Peres expressed the hope that the bodies of the
MIAs could be found and brought to Israel for proper burial.