(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this morning (Wednesday), 1 December 2004, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and Egyptian General Intelligence Director Omar Soliman.

In their talks, which were held in a good atmosphere, Prime Minister Sharon said that he is interested in advancing bilateral relations, including the promotion of preferred industrial zones (QIZ). The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s constructive approach towards the advancement of bilateral relations and towards advancing the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. The Prime Minister said that Egypt’s assistance in general, and that of Egyptian President Mubarak in particular, could move the process forward.

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated his regret over the killing of the three Egyptian soldiers along the Philadelphia corridor and added that when the IDF completes its investigation, the findings will be forwarded for Egyptian scrutiny. He said that Israel was prepared to assist the families of the dead soldiers, including rendering compensation.

Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel would implement the Disengagement Plan in full, according to the determined timetable. He said that Israel views recent developments in the Palestinian Authority (PA) as an opportunity in which, if the Palestinians implement their commitments regarding security, the war on terrorism and reforms, it should be possible to re-establish a diplomatic dialogue, according to the Roadmap. The Prime Minister said that after the PA elections it would be possible to coordinate with the new leadership on security – and other – affairs regarding the disengagement. The Prime Minister also said that Israel would take the necessary steps in order to facilitate the proper holding of PA elections and would coordinate with the Palestinians on this.

Prime Minister Sharon discussed the issue of weapons smuggling into Gaza from Egypt and said that this must be dealt with thoroughly in order to complete the future exit from the Philadelphia corridor and in order to develop air and sea ports.

Prime Minister Sharon said that he had approved a series of security-related issues for the security establishment, which could be agreed upon during and after the visit, in the framework of dialogue between the professional bodies.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that Israel is considering a series of humanitarian measures designed to ease restrictions on the Palestinian population that is not involved in terrorism and said that there has also been significant progress on the issue of transferring sequestrated Palestinian funds to the PA Finance Minister. The two Egyptian ministers thanked Prime Minister Sharon for holding the meeting and said that they are very much encouraged by his approach towards advancing the Disengagement Plan and assisting the Palestinians in advancing the electoral process. They said that Egyptian President Mubarak supports the Disengagement Plan and is willing to render any and all assistance, both to Israel and the Palestinians, in order to move it forward and in order to promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue with a view towards bringing about a better reality in the region, including stability and security.

It was agreed to increase bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation between the two leaders, and to be in constant touch in order to jointly advance the various issues on the agenda.