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By Edward Yeranian
Cairo
23 October 2008

Israeli President Shimon Peres told his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, during a brief meeting Thursday in the Sinai resort town of Sharm el Sheikh, that Israel was prepared to accept the 2002 Arab peace plan as the basis of a global peace agreement for the region.  Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Cairo.

The meeting between the Israeli and Egyptian presidents carries a symbolic and a tactical message, while giving the impetus of good will to a peace process which has been in the doldrums in recent months.

By endorsing the 2002 Arab peace plan, first proposed at a Beirut summit, Shimon Peres is signaling to moderate Arab states, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that no sincere efforts to reach an accord will be rebuffed.

The effort comes on the heels of recent indirect talks between Israel and Syria, using Turkish mediation, which came to an abrupt halt in September, after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was forced to submit his resignation.

Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak at a joint press conference after their meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, 23  Oct., 2008
Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak at a joint press conference after their meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, 23 Oct., 2008
Shimon Peres also expressed his thanks to President Mubarak for his efforts to gain the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by the Palestinian militants in Gaza in June of 2006:


He said President Mubarak has promised to redouble efforts to release Shalit and he said that would effect not only one family but the entire people of the region.

President Mubarak, in return, re-iterated, forcefully, the basic terms of the peace proposal, that all Arab governments would recognize Israel, in return for the withdrawal by the Jewish State from all Arab lands captured in the 1967 War.

He said all Arab states will establish normal relations with Israel if a final peace agreement is reached. He also said the details of the Arab plan are not open to discussion.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was the first to endorse the 2002 Arab peace proposal, earlier this week, calling it the "basis for a discussion on an overall regional peace."

Israeli leaders, including outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have long expressed reservations over the exact details of the Arab peace proposal.

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