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Egypt's Morsi invited to visit Israel

Updated: 2012-08-29 10:44
( Xinhua)

JERUSALEM - In a rare departure from his oft- quoted hawkish declarations, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday extended an invitation to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to visit Israel.

Speaking at a legal conference in Tel Aviv, Lieberman said, "We hope that whoever speaks about peace and about stability understands that there can be no hypothetical peace.

"We hope that Morsi will meet with Israeli officials, that he will be interviewed by Israeli media and that he will visit Jerusalem as the guest of President (Shimon) Peres."

The remarks came on the heels of an interview to British media Morsi gave on Monday, in which he stated his intention to pursue a "balanced" foreign policy and reiterated his commitment to upholding the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, as well as all international treaties which Cairo has signed.

"Egypt is now a civilian state... international relations between all state are open and the basis for all relations is balance," Morsi said in his first interview with an international media outlet since taking office.

"We are not against anyone, but we are for achieving our interests," he asserted.

Lauding Morsi's stated commitment to abide by the terms of the 1979 treaty, Lieberman, however, cautioned that peace is not merely "a telepathic connection" but rather should have "tangible expressions."

"I was happy to hear Morsi's talks about Egypt's commitment to the Camp David treaty and the struggle against terrorism," Lieberman said. "But anyone talking about peace and security needs to understand that this cannot just be something theoretical and abstract."

Israel's top leadership has voiced apprehension in the wake of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak's ouster in early 2011 and Morsi's recent victory in the country's first democratic election, citing fears that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate would abandon the peace treaty and turn a blind eye to the growing presence of militant groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

In a bid to assuage those fears, Morsi in July responded to a letter from Peres congratulating him on his presidential victory, saying that he was looking forward to assisting efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.

A spokesman for the Egyptian leader, however, later denied that he had sent the letter.