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Egypt president sends 1st letter to Israeli leader

By Daniel Estrin

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 31 2012 11:55 a.m. MDT

Egypt’s newly elected President Mohammed Morsi smiles as he meets with Bulgarian foreign minister, not pictured, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

Amr Nabil, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

JERUSALEM — Egypt's new Islamist president has sent his first letter to an Israeli leader, Israel said Tuesday, in which the Egyptian leader expresses his hopes that the Mideast peace process can be restarted and that "Israeli people" can achieve security.

The correspondence generated some optimism that the two countries would be able to maintain ties despite calls in Cairo to reconsider Egypt's peace treaty with the Jewish state.

In the letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres released by Peres' office, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood said he hopes to revive regional negotiations.

"I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East peace process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including ... Israeli people," Morsi wrote.

Morsi's office could not be reached for comment. The new president has pledged to respect Egypt's international treaties, but the Brotherhood has said it may need to make adjustments to the Israel-Egypt peace agreement. The movement historically has been hostile to Israel.

Egypt and Israel have had frosty relations since the 1979 accord was signed. The agreement, Israel's first with an Arab country, has for most of the past three decades provided a relatively quiet southern front for Israel while the country has focused on volatile events with Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories.

Israelis however say there is a rising threat by militants based in Egypt's desert Sinai Peninsula, which has become increasingly lawless since the toppling of longtime president Hosni Mubarak last year.

The letter was in response to a letter from Peres offering his blessings for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Peres' second letter to Morsi since he took office last month after winning Egypt's first-ever competitive presidential elections.

The Israeli president's first letter, accompanied by a similar letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was sent in late June. It congratulated Morsi on his election victory, and emphasized the importance of peace to both Israel and Egypt. They were Israel's first official communications to Morsi since the election.

The text of Netanyahu's letter was not released, but an official in Netanyahu's office said the letter emphasized the importance of maintaining the peace treaty.

Morsi's letter to Peres, written in English, inaccurately spells his name as Perez.

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