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Israel's Peres to Egypt's Morsi: Peace

From Guy Azriel, CNN
July 1, 2012 -- Updated 1537 GMT (2337 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Shimon Peres congratulates Egypt's new president and underscores the need for peace
  • Mohamed Morsi was sworn in Saturday as Egypt's first democratically elected president
  • Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israel's President Shimon Peres wrote to congratulate Egypt's newly inaugurated President Mohamed Morsi and to emphasize the importance of peace between the countries, Peres's office said Sunday.

"Peace has saved the lives of thousands of young people in Egypt and in Israel," Peres wrote. "Unlike war, peace is the victory of both sides."

He used the word peace six times in the brief letter, according to the Hebrew version released by his office. The letter that was delivered to Morsi was in Arabic, his office said.

Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel after decades of hostility and wars.

Relations between the two sides, never warm, have been strained further in recent years by cross-border incidents that have left people dead on both sides.

Morsi was sworn in Saturday as the first democratically elected president in Egypt's history.

He was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood during his campaign for president, and has called Israeli leaders "vampires" and "killers."

But he has also told CNN that he would maintain Egypt's 1979 peace accord with Israel.

"Yes, of course I will. I will respect it provided the other side keep it up and respect it," he said during the campaign.

Peres praised Egypt in his letter to Morsi.

"All of us here in Israel have great respect for Egypt and for the Egyptian people for serving as pioneers and leading the route to peace and reconciliation in the region," Peres wrote.

"Here in Israel, we congratulate you for holding democratic elections and wish Egypt under your presidency success in managing the complex challenges facing the Egyptian nation," he said.

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