US Vice-President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday discussed ways of lifting the three—year—old Israeli siege of Gaza.

The meeting, held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el—Sheikh, tackled developments in Israeli—Palestinian indirect negotiations and the consequences of last week’s Israeli raid on a flotilla trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip, which left nine dead.

Organizers had hoped the “Freedom Flotilla,” carrying 700 activists and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid, would have been a successful attempt to break the siege Israel imposed after Hamas seized control of the enclave in June 2007.

The talks comes after Mr. Biden defended “Israel’s right to intercept the ships” saying it had “an absolute right to deal with its security interest.” Egypt, which was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, said Israel should be “ashamed of itself” for the deadly attack.

They also discussed Iran’s nuclear file, the formation of a new government in Iraq, as well as developments in Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.

Mr. Biden was scheduled to visit Egypt in March, but the visit was cancelled after Mr. Mubarak went to Germany for gall bladder surgery.

He arrived in Sharm al—Sheikh late on Sunday on the first leg of his African tour, which will take him to Kenya and South Africa to attend Friday’s opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup and the US match against England on Saturday.

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