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Israeli leader to visit Egypt’s Mubarak

/ Source: The Associated Press

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Friday invited interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Egypt for an official visit, Olmert’s office said.

Olmert accepted the invitation, which was extended in a telephone call and the date of the visit was to be set next week, according to his office.

It will be the first meeting between Israeli and Egyptian leaders since February 2005, when Mubarak brokered a cease-fire package between then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Palestinians in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egypt is a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. On Thursday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Cairo was trying to bring together Olmert and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks.

Abbas, leader of the Fatah Party, favors talks. But the Hamas militants who took power in parliament and the Cabinet after January elections refuse to end their violent campaign against Israel or recognize its right to exist. Olmert has said he wouldn’t negotiate with Abbas until Hamas changes its ways.