CAIRO, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will leave on Tuesday for short visits to Germany and Italy to discuss Middle East peace negotiations, the state news agency MENA said.
Mubarak will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Berlin that will last only a few hours, then head to Rome to have talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and open a newly renovated Egyptian arts academy on Thursday. Mubarak, 82, was also in Germany in March for gallbladder surgery in Heidelberg Hospital. In 2004, he had surgery for a slipped disc at a Munich hospital.
Both events sparked rumours about the state of his health, unnerving Egypt's financial markets because he has no designated successor. Mubarak has not appointed a vice president, the post he held before taking office in 1981.
The discussions in Berlin and Rome will centre around the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis as well as regional issues and bilateral relations, MENA said.
The peace talks are stuck over the issue of Israeli settlement
in the occupied West Bank
, with the Palestinians threatening to quit the negotiations unless Israel
extends a partial construction moratorium in the enclaves.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and presidential chief of staff Zakaria Azmi will accompany Mubarak, it added.
He will return to Egypt later on Thursday.