Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sarkozy tries his hand at reviving Mideast peace

Report from AFP by Carole Landry – Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009:
Sarkozy tries his hand at reviving Mideast peace
PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday stepped up French diplomacy in the Middle East, holding talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders ahead of an Elysee meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

With the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort in peril, Sarkozy spoke by phone with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas after meeting for nearly two hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris late Wednesday.

He "underscored the urgency of re-starting the Middle East peace process and discussed, in light of his recent international contacts, the conditions that would allow a rapid resumption of negotiations," said an Elysee statement.

While the French diplomatic efforts between Israel and the Palestinians yielded no concrete announcements, Sarkozy was also turning his attention to Syria after Israel said it was open to reviving talks with Damascus.

Sarkozy is to explore prospects for Israeli-Syrian talks during a luncheon meeting with Assad at the Elysee palace on Friday, the latest in a string of visits underpinning warmer ties between Paris and Damascus.

Facing a dead-end on the Palestinian track, an Israeli official travelling with Netanyahu held open a chance of progress on the Syrian track of the stalled regional peace plan.

"Mr Sarkozy raised the issue of the Syrian track," a senior aide traveling with Netanyahu said Wednesday.
"The prime minister said he is willing to meet with the Syrian president at any time and anywhere to move on the peace negotiations on the basis of no pre-conditions," he added.

Syria has repeatedly demanded the return of the strategic Golan Heights, which Israeli captured in the 1967 war and unilaterally annexed in 1981, as a non-negotiable condition for peace.

Assad on Wednesday told a meeting of Arab politicians that Syria would not "put forward conditions on making peace" but warned it had "rights that we will not renounce," according to the SANA news agency.

Turkish mediation between the foes broke off last year during Israel's offensive in Gaza, closing a promising diplomatic channel, but Ankara has said it was willing to resume its role.

The editor of Syria's ruling party newspaper Al Baath, Abdel-Latif Omran, told AFP that while Syria was sticking to its demands for the return of the Golan Heights, it was also ready to negotiate on parallel issues such as water, normalisation of ties and security arrangements.

"The Israeli side is trying to sabotage all international peace efforts," said Omran.

"We hope that the efforts put forward by the European Union and France will lead to true peace in the Middle East, but there is no Israeli willingness to make peace."

Relations between France and Syria have been warming since Assad paid a landmark visit to Paris last year for Bastille Day celebrations and Sarkozy visited Damascus two months later in September 2008.

The Syrian leader recently played a key role in convincing Iran to grant bail for French academic Clotilde Reiss on trial for "provoking rioters" after the June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Keeping the pressure on Israel and the Palestinians, Sarkozy is dispatching Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to the region for talks next week.

Sarkozy outlined "important suggestions" aimed at restarting the comatose peace process during his talks with Abbas, according to a Palestinian aide.

A senior Palestinian official told AFP that Sarkozy's "suggestions" included holding a Middle East peace conference in Moscow, an idea Russia has been pushing for months.
- - -

From The Jerusalem Post Thur, Nov 12, 2009 21:27
Report: After meeting PM, Sarkozy calls Abbas to discuss renewal of talks
After discussing peace efforts with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Paris on Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in order to discuss conditions for the renewal of negotiations, according to an AFP report.

Quoting an Elysee statement, the report said that Sarkozy "underscored the urgency of re-starting the Middle East peace process."

Sarkozy - apparently wishing to assert his position as a Mideast mediator - is slated to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home