Berlusconi, Mubarak meet on Middle East peace process

15:35, September 24, 2010      

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met Thursday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss progress in the Middle East peace talks and bilateral relations.

Berlusconi, talking at a press conference, praised Mubarak for his role as central mediator in the delicate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

"The Egyptian president has played a crucial part in relaunching the peace talks, I want to congratulate him for his efforts," said Berlusconi, referring to the second round of direct Israel-Palestinian peace talks held in Sharm El-Sheik by Mubarak on Sept. 14.

The Italian premier pledged to obtain greater involvement from Israel to advance the negotiations toward a common solution.

Berlusconi also promised to further involve in the peace talks the European Union (EU) and the Quartet so as to put pressure on Israel for more concessions.

The two leaders also expressed their hope that Israel would prolong its freeze on settlement construction, which is set to expire at the end of September.

"In order to guarantee a real, long-standing success of the peace talks it is essential that the banning of the freeze is extended," said Mubarak, stressing that "the peace process was going through a most delicate and crucial phase".

The goal of Mubarak's visit was to brief Berlusconi on developments in the peace talks. It was part of the Egyptian president's European tour aimed at securing support in further boosting negotiations.

Mubarak met Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss the Middle East issue.

It was Mubarak's second trip to Italy since the beginning of the year, demonstrating the good state of Italian-Egyptian ties. Mubarak took part in an Italy-Egypt summit in Rome in March, where several strategic cooperation agreements were signed.

Source: Xinhua


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