CAIRO - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi promised Israel on Tuesday warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging Israeli leaders not to waste an opportunity to bring security and hope to a troubled region.
In an impromptu speech at an infrastructure conference in the southern city of Assiut, Sissi said his country was willing to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions in an effort to pave the way toward a lasting peace accord with the Israelis.
"If we are able to solve the issue of our Palestinian brothers it will achieve warmer peace... I ask that the Israeli leadership allow this speech to be broadcast in Israeli one or two times as this is a genuine opportunity," Sissi said.
"I say to our Palestinian brothers, you must unite the different factions in order to achieve reconciliation and quickly. We as Egypt are prepared to take on this role. It is a real opportunity to find a long-awaited solution."
French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday an international conference due in late May in Paris to relaunch peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis had been postponed but would take place this summer.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told France's foreign minister on Sunday that Israel remained opposed to a French initiative for an international conference to try to revive peace talks.
Egypt was the first of a handful of Arab countries to recognize Israel with a U.S.-sponsored peace accord in 1979, but Egyptian attitudes to their neighbor remain icy due to what many Arabs see as the continued Israeli occupation of land that is meant to form a Palestinian state.