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Israeli, Egyptian leaders announce plans to meet

Written by: Staff

JERUSALEM, Apr 6 (Reuters) Israel's Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak announced plans today to meet as soon as the Israeli leader puts together a new government, officials said.

Mubarak called to congratulate Olmert on his being asked by the Israeli president today to head a government after winning a March 28 general election.

''The two agreed to meet immediately after a government is formed'' in Israel, a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said.

Mubarak also wished Olmert good luck at forging a coalition.

Olmert said earlier today he hoped to put together a government as quickly as possible, though such political bargaining traditionally takes weeks in Israel.

Olmert's centrist Kadima party has said it would formally launch coalition talks with several political parties on Sunday.

Olmert won the election on a platform to set Israel's borders with the Palestinians with or without their agreement, within four years, by removing settlements from the occupied West Bank, though keeping several large settler blocs in place.

Palestinians object to Israel's plan, saying it would deny them a viable state in the land Israel captured in the 1967 West Asia War.

Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, in 1979, has long been active as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Mubarak played an important role in achieving a ceasefire deal last year under which Palestinian militant groups temporarily halted attacks against Israel.

Reuters PG VP0120

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