Middle East

Egypt denies Morsi sent letter to Peres

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi meets with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt. Panetta is on a four day trip to the Middle-East with stops in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan before returning to Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)

CAIRO: Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has not sent a letter to his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres, state media reported on Wednesday.

The Israeli president's office had said on Tuesday that the Islamist leader wrote to Peres pledging to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"President Morsi did not send any letters to the Israeli president," Morsi's spokesman Yassir Ali told the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, calling reports that he had done so "slander."

Peres's office had quoted Morsi as saying that he looked "forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle East peace process back to its right track."

Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, sent Morsi a letter of congratulations following his election as the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Morsi, the country's first Islamist president, has kept Israel at arm's length since he took office on June 30. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, in 1979.

He is expected to improve relations with the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza, considered terrorists by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Palestinian officials said this month that Cairo has eased visa requirements for Gazans under 40, relaxing restrictions on the enclave that Israel and Egypt placed under semi-blockade after Hamas took over in 2007.





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