Mideast peace talks resumed in Cairo Tuesday with Israel's foreign minister optimistic about reaching agreement with the PLO but refusing to budge on security for Israel.

Israel missed the Dec. 13 deadline for withdrawing its troops from Gaza Strip and Jericho in the West Bank because of disagreements over who should control the borders with Jordan and Egypt.Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said he believed both sides want to overcome their differences. But he said Israel could not compromise its safety.

"Our main concern is and will remain . . . the security of Israel, but otherwise we have full respect for the Palestinian side," he said after an hourlong meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The two sides also disagree over the size of the Jericho district and how to protect Jewish settlers in the occupied lands.

Peres and his delegation then left to resume talks with a Palestinian team led by Mahmoud Abbas, a chief adviser to PLO chief Yasser Arafat.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said he expected the peace talks to include two or three more meetings and could stretch into Wednesday.

"The continuation of negotiations from yesterday to today and maybe tomorrow will give a chance for three or four points to be reconciled," he told reporters.

The negotiations that opened Monday night follow meetings last week in Paris and Oslo, Norway.

Asked about the chances for success, Peres replied, "The hopes are unlimited, but time I cannot mention."

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Peres and Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, began the negotiations in Cairo last October but have not headed the delegations since. Both men also were involved, at least indirectly, in secret negotiations in Norway earlier this year that led to the first real breakthrough between the two sides.

On arrival Monday, Peres promised "very serious negotiations," but he had said in an interview earlier with the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot that the Palestinians would have to make concessions.

"I very much hope that Arafat comes down from that tree he's climbed because I am not bringing anything new with me," he said.

Egypt's Middle East News Agency quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the two sides still disagreed over protection of settlers and that Israel had rejected PLO proposals for solving the border issue.

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