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Egypt foreign minister heads to Israel for rare visit

Cairo - Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was heading to Israel on Sunday for a rare visit in which he is to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his office said.

Shoukry would hold "lengthy talks" with Netanyahu focusing on reviving the peace process with the Palestinians, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Among other issues, the two would discuss "laying the foundation and specifics of confidence-building between Palestinians and Israelis to create a supportive environment to resume direct negotiations between them with the aim of reaching a comprehensive and just solution," it said.

Shoukry's trip to Israel comes after he visited the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 29.

It also follows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's comments in May that there was a "real opportunity" for an Israeli-Palestinian deal that could lead to warmer ties between his country and Israel.

Sisi urged Israelis and Palestinians to seize what he said was a "real opportunity" and hailed his own country's peace deal with Israel.

In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel after years of conflict, and it remains an influential player in the region.

In June, representatives from 28 Arab and Western countries, the Arab League, European Union and the United Nations met in Paris to discuss ways in which the international community could help advance the Palestinian-Israel peace process.

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