Egypt's Morsi Denies 'Greeting' to Israeli President

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- It was billed as the first official contact by Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi, with the Jewish state.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Israeli President Shimon Peres' office publicized Morsi's response to the president's Ramadan greeting.
 
"It was with deep thanks that I receive your congratulations on the advent of the Holy Month of Ramadan," Morsi wrote. "I take this opportunity to reiterate that I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East Peace Process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including the Israeli people."

Peres' office released scanned copies of Morsi's note along with a fax from the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv.
 
It didn't take long for Egypt's president to deny the letter had ever been sent.
 
"This report is completely false," Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali told the Egyptian daily al-Ahram. "President Morsi did not send any correspondence to the Israeli president and the reports to that effect in Israeli newspapers today are fabricated," Ali claimed, punctuating his remarks with, "these fabrications do not stop."

Peres' office, however, said the official communique came by registered mail and by fax from the embassy in Tel Aviv. Before releasing the information, the staff followed its usual meticulous protocol. The embassy said they called Morsi's office to receive permission to publicize the letter.

The Ramadan greeting was the second official note Peres sent to the new president. In June, he sent him a congratulatory note on his election.
 
"As someone who took part in the process that led to the signing of the peace agreement between your country and mine, I know that both Egypt and Israel see with utmost importance peace and stability in our region as something that serves the interests of all peoples of the region," Peres wrote.

"We in Israel congratulate you on the holding of democratic elections and wish Egypt, under your leadership, the courage to face the complex challenges that confront the Egyptian nation. We hope for continued cooperation with you based on the peace agreements that were signed between us over three decades ago and which obligate us to maintain and cultivate them on behalf of the welfare of both peoples.
 
"Peace has saved the lives of countless young people in Egypt and in Israel," he wrote. "The obligation toward the younger generation remains forever valid. As opposed to war, peace is a victory for both sides," Peres concluded.

Israeli sources later said the retraction wasn't surprising in view of the letter's broad dissemination in Egyptian media outlets, which may have evoked strong responses from his affiliates and advisors.

Neither Peres' office nor Egypt's Foreign Ministry released further comments on the matter.

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