Israeli PM: PA Talks to Resume Soon

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday that he hopes to resume talks with the Palestinians soon.

"We want to renew the peace negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible, and I hope they will indeed resume in the coming weeks," Netanyahu said at a joint press conference following the meeting.

On his first trip since assuming office, Netanyahu briefed Mubarak on his administration's diplomatic plan for the complex issues facing the region.

Netanyhu called the 30-year Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement a "strategic asset" and "the cornerstone of stability and hope in the region."

"The peace between us has existed for more than 30 years and has withstood the test of time," the prime minister said.

Netanyahu also thanked Egypt for its support in the fight against terrorism.

"The Jewish nation strives for harmonious relations with the Muslim world, and the State of Israel strives to achieve peace with its Palestinian neighbors and all the Arab countries. We all live in this region and we are all the sons of Abraham.

"Unfortunately, today we are witnessing extremist forces threatening the stability in the Middle East. The battle in the Middle East is not one between nations or religions, but between moderates and extremists. It is a battle between those who want to live and those who spread violence and death. We want to nurture and build, while others want to burn, destroy and kill.

"Seeing that Israel and Egypt are looking to build a future of hope and peace, we must strengthen the cooperation between us," Netanyahu said.

Mubarak, for his part, said he hoped the Netanyahu government would advance the Saudi-initiated Arab peace plan and work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"Three decades have passed and it has been proven that peace is not impossible," Mubarak said.

"Peace is achieved by the few who stand by their obligation to abide by the agreed-upon resolutions. Egypt seeks a just and comprehensive peace that would put an end to the bloodshed and violence, also between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

Later, Netanyahu described the meeting with Mubarak as "excellent" despite the fact that they disagreed on a number of issues.

The meeting took place a week before Netanyahu's first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on May 18 at the White House.

Source: Haaretz

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