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Mubarak, Olmert to Probe Relaunching Mideast Peace Process
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The issue of relaunching the stalled Middle East peace process is expected to top the agenda of the meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday, according to an Egyptian official.

Mubarak and Olmert will meet at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday to prepare the groundwork for a three-way summit between Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Mubarak, the Egyptian presidential spokesman Suliman Awwad said on Wednesday.

Moreover, another meeting between Olmert and Abbas will be proposed at Thursday's summit, said Awwad, noting that "the Egyptian-Israeli summit is in preparation for a meeting between Olmert and Abbas in Sharm el-Sheikh in the near future, with Egyptian mediation."

The two leaders will also discuss the issue of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured last June near the Gaza Strip by three Palestinian groups including the armed wing of the governing Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) as the Palestinian groups are demanding 1,500 prisoners be freed in exchange for Shalit's release, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit.

The meeting between Olmert and Mubarak comes ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region on January 13 and 14, aimed at unblocking the stalled peace process.

On Dec. 16, 2006, Abbas called for early elections to resolve clashes in Gaza Strip between Hamas and his Fatah movement, while Egypt is exerting efforts to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2007)

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