Olmert and Mubarak Discuss PA at Sharm el-Sheikh

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Sunday evening to discuss mutual concerns about the current situation in the Palestinian Authority.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 22:45

The two leaders met at the presidential estate in Sharm el-Sheikh. Although Olmert and Mubarak have had numerous phone conversations since Olmert took over the functions of comatose ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in January, this was the first meeting between the two men since Olmert became prime minister.

Olmert publicly agreed to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the possibility of returning to the negotiating table for peace talks based on the Road Map plan. He stated, however, that the PA would be expected to keep its end of the deal at each stage of the plan, including disarming and dismantling terrorist organizations.

During the meeting and the news conference that followed, Olmert tendered an official apology to Mubarak for last week’s shooting in which two Egyptians were killed; see separate story.

The agenda for the meeting between the two leaders included ways to strengthen PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ position within the Hamas-led PA government, as well as the transfer of humanitarian aid to the PA population.

Olmert summarized his recent meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, as well as recent moves to facilitate the transfer of food, medical supplies and equipment into Gaza.

Egyptian-Israeli cooperation and the delicate issue of Olmert’s unilateral withdrawal plan were also topics for discussion. The prime minister told the Egyptian president that a negotiated peace plan would be his first priority – but if that failed, there would be no other choice but to activate unilateral withdrawal and set permanent borders independently.

Mubarak is scheduled to meet with Abbas on Monday, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Information.