There is a clear difference between female genital mutilation and male circumcision for religious reasons, the head of the Council of Europe wrote to Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, sent the letter dated Oct. 8 in response to a letter from Peres in which the Israeli president called on the council to reconsider a resolution condemning male ritual circumcision, saying it would impede religious freedom.

"Nothing in the body of our legally binding standards would lead us to put on equal footing the issue of female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons," Jagland wrote to Peres, saying he understood the negative reaction of people from the Jewish and Muslim community to the resolution.

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