FM Peres: I am very glad to receive here Mr. Amre Moussa, my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, and a good friend of ours. We are working together very closely, weeks after weeks, in order really to complete the agreement with the Palestinians and go on with the peace process in the other directions which are necessary. As far as we are concerned, we are highly appreciative of the role that Egypt, its President, its Foreign Minister, its government are playing in order to bring the parties closer together.

We talked between the two of us in a very open and friendly manner, and occasionally we are trying together to overcome the difficulties. I do hope that we are coming closer and closer to the completion of the agreement with the PLO, though there is still work to be done. It is not an occasion for lazy people, because we have really to be very laborous and very inventive to overcome the remaining problems. We are doing it very seriously, and I do pray that the results will be seen soon.

FM Moussa: I am also glad to be here on this peace mission. We are working together with the Palestinians and the Israelis to conclude the agreement between them on the implementation of the DOP. I am glad that I heard with you the optimistic remarks of the Foreign Minister of Israel about the possibilities of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. Still, there are some problems and some work to do. As I said earlier, the two parties have already covered a lot of ground, solved many problems. We hope that the next few days will be fruitful in pushing forward the work on the Palestinian-Israeli track towards fruition.

The talks I held here with Foreign Minister Peres are the continuation of the talks I held earlier this morning with the Prime Minister, to whom I conveyed a message from President Mubarak and from whom I carry a message to the President. We will continue to work. We will be all of us in Davos in a few days. We hope that over there the remaining problems will be agreed upon. But what I can report to you is that there is a big deal of optimism, and not that we want to paint a rosy picture – we don’t want to paint this one – but at least also on the other side we shouldn’t exaggerate and be pessimistic on that matter.

Q: (translated from Hebrew) Mr. Peres, we heard from Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa that he hope that the issues will resolved by you and Chairman Arafat in Davos. Could you tell us whether, in your estimation, the security matters relating to the border crossings will be resolved and it will be possible to reach an agreement?

FM Peres: (translated from Hebrew) That is my hope. I believe that there is a good opportunity for us to do so, but it has not yet happened. I prefer to be cautious and not to describe things that haven’t yet happened as though they had. But a basis has been created which may enable us to arrive at such an agreement. I believe that Amre Moussa has given us the a view of how things look from the Egyptian side, and they are not very different from how they appear from the Israeli side.

Q: Mr. Peres, you’ve been speaking in very optimistic tones since you meeting in Oslo. Could you tell us what you agreed on with Mr. Arafat?

FM Peres: I didn’t speak in any optimistic terms. I said we have agreed on some points, there are other points that are still hanging in the air and that we are trying to reach an agreement. I do believe there is a basis for such an agreement, but we did not yet complete the negotiations.

Q: Mr. Minister Moussa, what is it that you have heard from Mr. Arafat this week, to your opinion – and you have been working very hard on this agreement personally in the last few weeks? What is the most difficult issue as far as Arafat is concerned?

FM Moussa: Let me first start by saying that Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian leadership are all working for and believing in the necessity of reaching an agreement with Israel. They are convinced that the time has come for a peace agreement to be reached and for the DOP to be implemented. That is the source of optimism we have. On the other side, as I heard from the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Israel today, they are all very enthusiastic about and eager to reach an agreement with the Palestinian side. The problems at hand are still serious, but we are working on them. Exactly as the Foreign Minister said, we don’t want to show optimism just to please you or please the listeners, but we want to work, and there is still a lot of work to be done. But we hope that we can do the work in the shortest possible period of time. We look forward to the next station, which in fact is not one station but several: the talks between Shimon Peres and Chairman Arafat in Davos, the talks in Taba, the talks in Washington, the talks elsewhere – on the economic side, the security side, the future relationship and so on – all that form a good ground for serious work and for the conclusion of the agreements we are working for.

Q: Is Egypt going to be instrumental also in the Syrian channel?

FM Moussa: We will continue to help whenever our help is needed.

Q: Mr. Peres, do you believe that you are going to be able to solve the

border crossing issue with Mr. Arafat in Davos?

FM Peres: It is possible, it wasn’t yet completed.