France calls on US and Arab Leagueto settle Mideast conflict

19th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

TEL AVIV, Oct 19 (AFP) - The international community, especially the United States and Arab League, must not allow the Middle East conflict to fester without response, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday.

TEL AVIV, Oct 19 (AFP) - The international community, especially the United States and Arab League, must not allow the Middle East conflict to fester without response, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday.

"I am launching an appeal today, an appeal to the internatonal community, an appeal to the Arab League, an appeal to the United States for a settlement to this conflict which needs a strong and determined engagement from the Americans," Barnier said in a speech in Tel Aviv.

"We are going to work together in the months ahead. We are going to unite our efforts to find the path to negotiate a final status solution.

"We must not leave this crisis without a response and this region without a future," added Barnier.

The minister was speaking at Tel Aviv university at the end of a three-day visit to Israel which has also seen him meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his counterpart Silvan Shalom.

The visit marked an attempt by both countries to draw a line under recent disputes, including a decision by Barnier to hold talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Barnier, however, said that Israel had to understand that Arafat was vital to reaching a peace agreement.

"History teaches us that we cannot choose our enemies and it is with them that we have to make peace," he said while calling on the Palestinian government to do more to counter militants behind anti-Israeli attacks as well as address corruption and demands for political reform.

The minister also took a swipe at Israel's West Bank barrier which he said violated international law as large parts dip into Palestinian territory.

"Every state must define its own means of security and France recognises that as a sovereign right. But we also ask: does it conform to international law? The route of the wall does not."

The UN's International Court of Justice has declared parts of the barrier built within the West Bank as illegal and should be torn down. Israel has ignored the non-binding verdict, insisting that the barrier is vital to prevent suicide attacks by militants.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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