France sides with Russia on Hamas talks

10th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 10, 2006 (AFP) - France said Friday that it approved of Russia's invitation to Hamas leaders for talks in Moscow after winning the Palestinian election, saying it could help the Middle East peace process.

PARIS, Feb 10, 2006 (AFP) - France said Friday that it approved of Russia's invitation to Hamas leaders for talks in Moscow after winning the Palestinian election, saying it could help the Middle East peace process.

The offer "may contribute to advancing our positions," foreign ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said, referring to the so-called quartet sponsoring the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — the European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States.

The US government has reacted coolly to the Russian invitation extended Thursday by President Vladimir Putin, stressing that the quartet was agreed that Hamas should renounce violence before winning international legitimacy.

Israel, however, was furious at Putin's offer, with Education Minister Meir Sheetrit calling it a "knife in the back" from Moscow, a key negotiator in the peace process, as the Jewish state seeks to isolate the radical movement.

Simonneau said the Russian initiative "had been taken without consulting the (quartet) partners, but it is within the framework of goals and principles we fixed for ourselves."

"We share with Russia the goal of moving Hamas toward positions which will allow us to reach the objective of having two states living in peace and security," he said.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, but not by Moscow.

The diplomatic quartet drafted the so-called roadmap to peace three years ago, which calls for the creation of a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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