Berlusconi to host Egypt's Mubarak for talks
Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak was in Rome on Thursday as part of a two-stop European tour to brief leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, about ongoing Mideast peace talks, DPA reported.
In the Italian capital, Mubarak was first set to preside at a morning ceremony to inaugurate the city's renovated Egyptian Academy. Berlusconi was also scheduled to attend the function.
Established in 1929, the academy has been refurbished in am 8- million-euro (10.6-million-dollar) Egyptian government-funded project which began in 2008.
The new complex includes a museum - for exhibits of Egyptian, Coptic and Islamic art - a restaurant and a conference centre.
Mubarak and Berlusconi were later scheduled to meet at the Italian premier's Palazzo Chigi office in central Rome.
It was not immediately clear whether the two would would address the media after the talks.
On Wednesday, Mubarak met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, where the two agreed that the current Mideast peace talks are a "rare opportunity."
Merkel's 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.
In Cairo, Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) has 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.