Merkel, Mubarak call Mideast talks "rare opportunity"
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak agreed that the current Mideast peace talks are a "rare opportunity," a German government spokesman said Wednesday after they met, DPA reported.
Neither met the media after the evening talks lasting two hours at Merkel's Berlin office.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said that with an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction set to expire on Sunday, both leaders voiced strong interest in keeping the negotiations going.
"Germany and Egypt regard these negotiations as a rare opportunity for progress in the peace process and urge both sides to boldly and creatively use this change," the spokesman said in a news release.
Earlier in the day, Seibert had said of Merkel's expectations for the Israeli-Palestinian talks: "The chancellor is neither optimistic nor pessimistic: she is realistic."
Merkel has just arrived back home from New York, where she attended the Millennium Development Goals summit and spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging him to agree on peace terms.
She had called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier with the same message.
In Cairo, Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) said that he was visiting Germany and Italy to brief officials there on the peace talks.
On the NDP website, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit was quoted as saying that Mubarak would bring up the topics of Iraq and Lebanon, too.
His trip was "to provide maximum support for the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis, pointing out that the current stage requires efforts at the international level in order to maintain the continuation of the peace process, which is still in its early stages," the statement said.