Discussions over Shalit
by: JTA - Last updated: 2008-10-23
kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit
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Egypt is not to blame for failed negotiations to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Hosni Mubarak told Shimon Peres.
The Israeli president met Thursday with his Egyptian counterpart in Sharm el-Sheikh. Mubarak invited Peres for the visit during a pre-holiday phone call on the eve of Rosh Hashana and Eid al-Fitr.
Mubarak also criticized Israel for continuing to build in the settlements during a press conference following their meeting.
Though the president of Israel is largely a ceremonial position, Peres made the trip without opposition because Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has already resigned pending a new government coalition and Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni is in the process of putting together a new government.
Livni's office said she and Peres coordinated strategy in advance of the meeting. The two leaders were scheduled to discuss "advancing the peace process between Israel and its neighbors, strengthening ties between Israel and Egypt, the matter of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and a variety of other state and security issues" as well as " the global financial crisis and its possible ramifications in the Middle East," according to a statement from Peres' spokesperson's office.
But speculation in Israeli media indicated that the two would likely discuss the Arab League regional peace plan.
On Wednesday, Egypt denied that it had invited Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to visit the country, after a report to that effect surfaced in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. Nasrallah has rarely been seen in public since he went into hiding during the Second Lebanon War.