Mubarak, Barak review Palestinian-Israeli talks, situation in Gaza


Cairo : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks here with visiting Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and the situation in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said.

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“The talks focused on Egypt’s mediation efforts to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for the release of the Israeli captive Gilad Shalit,” Abul-Gheit disclosed Tuesday.

“President Mubarak asserted the importance of solving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and urged for more cooperation by Israel on the advent of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

“The talks also dealt with the progress made so far in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and the Israeli position on the talks.

“Barak briefed Mubarak on the efforts being made by the coordinator of the International Quartet Tony Blair to rehabilitate some Palestinian facilities,” Abul-Gheit added.

In similar statements to the press following his meeting with Mubarak, Barak thanked the Egyptian leader for the generous hospitality offered to him and the mediation efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.

He said the talks tackled regional issues relating to the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iranian nuclear programme and the Israeli-Syrian peace talks.

He voiced hope for Shalit’s release in the framework of a prisoner swap and on strengthening the truce in the Gaza Strip as a prelude to the reopening of the crossing points.

As part of his current visit to Egypt, the Israeli defence minister met also with his Egyptian counterpart, Mohammad Hussein Tantawi, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Abul-Gheit.