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ISRAEL WILL PURSUE PEACE, WEIZMAN TELLS EGYPT

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President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said he was assured by Israel's president Monday that Israel would live up to its agreements with Palestinians.

Ezer Weizman, the Israeli president, came to Cairo to smooth rocky relations with Egypt, despite strong criticism at home that he was overstepping the bounds of his ceremonial office.In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Weizman did not have the mandate to negotiate peace, but added he hoped the trip to Egypt "will help in the bilateral relations."

The meeting came after Mubarak assailed Netanyahu for moving slowly on negotiations with the Palestinians and for opening a new entrance to a tourist tunnel at a site holy to Muslims and Jews. That last action set off riots and clashes that killed 78 people.

After Monday's meeting, Mubarak also promised to keep backing the Middle East peace process.

"The president assured me they are honoring the agreements and (they) are going to be implemented," Mubarak said. "I told him that Egypt will continue to support the peace process as much as we can until . . . peace prevails all over the whole area."

Weizman said he believes the Arabs want Israel to go forward with the peace process and that Israel intends to do so.

"I am sure, as I said to President Mubarak, that the government of Israel . . . will do honestly all its best to achieve peace with regard to the Palestinians," he added.

He noted Israel was grappling with the issue of withdrawing its army from the West Bank city of Hebron, the last Palestinian city under Israeli control, but he did not say when that would happen.

"Better late than never," he told reporters.

The redeployment was scheduled in March under peace agreements. The failure of Israeli forces to leave most of Hebron has deeply angered Palestinians.