Mubarak, Peres discuss direct peace talks

President Hosni Mubarak met with Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres today to discuss efforts to relaunch the peace process and the possibility of moving toward direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Talks between the two leaders followed the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee meeting held last Thursday, where Arab ministers agreed in principle to conduct direct negotiations with Israel on the condition that its provide guarantees on crucial issues. The ministers however said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should decide when to enter into direct negotiations.

Abbas, for his part, said he will not enter into negotiations with Israel until it makes pledges to suspend settlement construction and return to its pre-1967 borders.

Israeli radio also reported that the two leaders will discuss the Iranian nuclear issue and the fate of Gild Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas.

The Israeli President will likely request the release of Ouda Tarabin, a Sinai bedouin who has been in prison for 11 years for spying on Israel’s behalf.

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