Peres, Mubarak discuss direct talks

Both men agree window of opportunity for peace agreement is open.

Peres-Mubarak 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Peres-Mubarak 311
(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 be missed.
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.”
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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 peoples.
Peres thanked Mubarak for standing firm against extremists trying to cause war and destruction in the Middle East.
“Israeli and Egyptian mothers and sons owe you a debt of gratitude,” Peres said.
He also thanked him for his efforts to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.
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.