Barnier hopeful of Israel-Palestinian resolution

4th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

JERUSALEM, Fev 4 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said he was hopeful Israel and the Palestinians could set aside their differences and make peace, in an interview published Friday.

JERUSALEM, Fev 4 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said he was hopeful Israel and the Palestinians could set aside their differences and make peace, in an interview published Friday.

"I entertain the hope that (a reconciliation) is possible ... and the sooner it happens, the better," Barnier told the mass-circulation daily Maariv, just ahead of a two-day visit to the region.

According to the paper, Barnier understands that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's priority for the time being is to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip next summer.

"But this must take place within the framework of the roadmap," said Barnier, in reference to the internationally drafted peace blueprint that foresees the creation of a Palestinian state.

"The context is different nowadays and we must look forward," he added when asked about France's support for the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom both the United States and its Israeli ally boycotted.

Sharon and newly elected Palestinian Authority's president Mahmud Abbas are due to meet at a landmark summit in Sharm El-Sheikh on Tuesday. Barnier will meet both leaders a day before.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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