France, Spain back 'roadmap' over Sharon plan

23rd April 2004, Comments 0 comments

MADRID, April 22 (AFP) - The foreign ministers of Spain and France, Miguel Angel Moratinos and Michel Barnier, Thursday reaffirmed their support for the "roadmap" for Middle East peace despite the Israeli plan, backed by the United States, to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

MADRID, April 22 (AFP) - The foreign ministers of Spain and France, Miguel Angel Moratinos and Michel Barnier, Thursday reaffirmed their support for the "roadmap" for Middle East peace despite the Israeli plan, backed by the United States, to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

US President George W. Bush last week gave his enthusiastic endorsement to the plan by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw from the Gaza Strip but keep hold of most the West Bank settlements.

The Palestinian leadership is strongly opposed, saying it would turn Gaza Strip into a "large prison".

Barnier said the roadmap for peace put forward by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations envisages negotiations with the Palestinians.

"There is a plan, the roadmap, and a way which involves consultations and negotiations, not only between Americans and Israelis, but also with the Palestinians," Barnier said.

"We believe that the withdrawal from Gaza is positive on condition that it part of a step in the roadmap. And we call for dialogue and consultations with Palestinians."

The roadmap was designed to lay down the steps to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel by 2005.

Barnier also said the European Union needs the "knowledge and sensitivities on the ground" that Moratinos, who visited Washington this week, has acquired during his years as the EU's special envoy to the Middle East.

© AFP

                                              Subject: French news

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