The President of Israel, Mr. Moshe Katsav, said to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Mr. Ahmed Maher, "We must increase the number of meetings between all the authorities at all levels, in order to improve the atmosphere and the neighbourly relations between our two countries." This was said at a meeting which was held at noon between the President of Israel and the visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs.

During the meeting the President also brought up Israel´s request to release Azam Azam.  "He is an Israeli citizen who is innocent," stated the President.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that he had come in order to improve the atmosphere and to promote the discussions between Israel and the Palestinians without any preconditions.  "Egypt is making great efforts to get the Palestinians to agree a ceasefire"  From what he said, he found positive ideas in the Prime Minister´s address at the Congress in Herzliya and noted that Egypt intends to help renew the security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.  "We are interested in bilateral relations with Israel but because of public opinion in Egypt, we must first improve the atmosphere."

Minister Maher asked that Israel make things easier for the Palestinians in a number of areas, including the checkpoints, closures, and stopping the building of the security fence.

The President of Israel clarified to his guest that the fence is a security one and that it has no political significance and its purpose is to lesson the number of attacks.  In fact, it  succeeds in doing so.  Eventually, it will also help the Palestinian leadership.

The President said to the guest that the main obstacle in the relations between Israel and the Palestinians is the continuation of the terror.  "It is not feasible that there are a number of organizations within the Palestinian Authority and that each one makes its own decisions.  If the terror is stopped, we will immediately be able to renew the negotiations and a better atmosphere will be  created," said the President.  "I believe that it is possible to bridge the gaps." 

The President thanked Egypt for the efforts being made to achieve a ceasefire and invited President Mubarak on a State Visit to Israel.  "Egypt must do more to increase the meetings," stated the President.  "Such meetings can clarify the differences and bring about closer relations between neighbours."

The Egyptian Foreign Minister promised to pass on the message to the President of Egypt and expressed optimism regarding improvement in the area. "I know that you, as President, are always pressing for peace and that you have great influence on the public opinion in Israel," said Minister Maher. "Your voice is one of wisdom which is listened to and appreciated in and outside Israel.  Such voices are necessary in order to find a solution in the Middle East."

The Foreign Minister stated that in the last few years changes had occurred in the Arab world and that elements which had opposed Israel and peace with it, now tend to accept Israel as an natural entity.