| GEO World|
| Mubarak, Peres to discuss Hamas prisoner deal|
| Updated at: 0755 PST, Thursday, October 23, 2008|
JERUSALEM: Israeli President Shimon Peres is to meet his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Egypt on Thursday to discuss Middle East peace efforts and Cairo's bid to broker a prisoner swap with Hamas.
The two heads of state are to meet in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Peres, who unlike Mubarak holds a mainly ceremonial post, will be given a state welcome with full pomp and ceremony.
The two octogenarian presidents will discuss relations between the neighbouring states which signed the first ever Arab-Israeli peace treaty in 1979, a senior aide to Peres told media.
But the talks will likely focus on Egyptian attempts to broker a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized in a deadly raid in June 2006.
Egypt has in recent months assumed a crucial role in mediating between Hamas, which does not recognise the Jewish state, and Israel, which along with the United States and the European Union blacklists Hamas as a terrorist group.
Hamas has demanded that Israel release about 1,400 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds who have been implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis, according to a senior Israeli defence official.
Israel and Hamas both agreed to an Egyptian-brokered truce in and around the Gaza Strip on June 19, ending months of fighting.