Since Israel returned it to Egypt (search) under a peace treaty, the sunny, former fishing town of Sharm el-Sheik (search) has developed into a major tourist site with five-star hotels. It also has become a regular meeting place for Arab and Israeli officials and European, U.S. and U.N. mediators struggling to negotiate a Middle East peace.

A look at the breakthroughs and disappointments of Sharm el-Sheik:

  

-- March 13, 1996: After anti-Israeli suicide bombings kill scores, President Clinton (search) leads drive for summit at which 29 world leaders, including Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, condemn terrorism. Few specific plans accompany historic show of international solidarity against violence.

-- Sept. 5, 1999: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat reach agreement calling for a full peace treaty by Sept. 13, 2000, after days of bargaining over issues including timetables for Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank and release of Palestinian prisoners.

-- February 2000: Arafat breaks off talks with Barak, accusing him of neglecting Palestinians while courting Syrians and criticizing him for lagging on interim timetable set out in the September 1999 agreement.

-- March 9, 2000: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with Barak and Arafat amid intense diplomacy to keep September deal on track. Months later, White House declares a nine-day Camp David summit between Barak and Arafat a failure.

-- Oct. 17, 2000: Israelis, Palestinians agree to publicly urge end to violence after tense, complex talks involving Clinton and U.N., EU, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders. But intefadeh, or uprising, that erupted in September continues, burying hopes for a cease-fire.

-- Dec. 27, 2000: Barak cancels trip to Sharm el-Sheik for planned summit with Mubarak and Arafat after Palestinians express deep reservations about Clinton's proposals for a comprehensive peace settlement.

-- Jan. 30, 2002: Mubarak and Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer meet in highest level contact between Egypt and Israel since October. With Israelis and Palestinians not speaking, Mubarak says Egypt must keep lines of communication open.

-- March 10, 2002: Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal offers Israel "complete peace from Arab nations" in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands. Later that month, proposal formally adopted at Arab summit in Lebanon.

-- March 1: U.S. threats to wage war on Iraq dominate contentious annual Arab League summit. Arafat concentrates on confrontation with Israel. EU president pledges to work to resolve Palestinian-Israeli impasse after Iraq crisis resolved.