Abbas arrives in Paris as settlement curbs set to end
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas arrived in Paris on Sunday as diplomatic efforts intensified hours before the expiration of a settlement moratorium that could spell the end of US-backed peace talks.
Abbas was to meet with local Jewish leaders later on Sunday before holding talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Monday to "explore developments in the peace process," his spokesman said.
"Abbas will update Sarkozy on the latest results of the international and American efforts to press Israel to continue the freeze of settlements as a necessity for continuing the negotiations," Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.
Abbas has repeatedly threatened to walk out of peace talks relaunched in Washington earlier this month if Israel resumes construction of new settler homes in the occupied West Bank when the moratorium expires later on Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would be open to some kind of compromise but that building will resume, and settler groups have deployed bulldozers and cement trucks on at least two construction sites.
Abbas will meanwhile continue efforts to reach out to the Jewish community after similar meetings with Jewish leaders in the United States.
Abu Rudeina said the Palestinian president would encourage French Jews to "play a positive role in the peace process in the region."
The United States managed to relaunch peace talks at a ceremony on September 2 in Washington after months of shuttle diplomacy. The peace process was last suspended in December 2008 after the outbreak of the 22-day Gaza war.
© 2010 AFP