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Israel-Egypt Relations: Netanyahu And Peres Write To New Egyptian President Morsi

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JERUSALEM -- Israel's president and prime minister have sent separate letters to Egypt's new Islamist president, congratulating him on his election victory and calling for continued peace between the neighboring countries, Israeli officials said Sunday.

Israeli officials have grown jittery over the future of relations with Egypt since last year's ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. The election of Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has deepened those concerns. Morsi took office Saturday.

Israel's high-profile outreach reflected the importance Israel places on its peace treaty with Egypt. The 1979 agreement, Israel's first with an Arab country, has been a cornerstone of Israeli security policy for three decades, allowing the military to focus on more volatile fronts with Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories.

The letters from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres were Israel's first official communications with Morsi since his election.

An official in Netanyahu's office confirmed the letter emphasized the importance of maintaining the peace treaty. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a sensitive diplomatic matter. The text was not released.

Peres, a 1994 Nobel Peace laureate, wrote in his letter, "Peace has saved the lives of countless young people in Egypt and in Israel." His office released the text Sunday and said the letter was sent Thursday.

Morsi has pledged to respect all of Egypt's international accords, but the Brotherhood has said adjustments to the Israel-Egypt accord may be needed.

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