France to tell Arafat ‘speed up reforms’

28th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 28 (AFP) - France's Foreign Minister Michel Barnier is expected to tell Yasser Arafat when he travels to the West Bank on Tuesday that the Palestinian leader must urgently speed up reforms, a ministry spokesman said.

PARIS, June 28 (AFP) - France's Foreign Minister Michel Barnier is expected to tell Yasser Arafat when he travels to the West Bank on Tuesday that the Palestinian leader must urgently speed up reforms, a ministry spokesman said.

Barnier "will remind president Arafat of the necessity and the urgency of continuing to apply the programme of reforms and to do everything to make the Egyptian initiative (for Gaza) succeed," spokesman Herve Ladsous told journalists here on Monday.

Barnier's visit to Ramallah follows talks with Egyptian and Jordanian leaders in Cairo and Amman last week over Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip next year.

He gave his strong support for Egyptian efforts to ensure security in Gaza after the pullout scheduled for the end of next year and said that France was prepared to take part in "an international presence" in the territory.

Egypt has offered to send up to 200 personnel to the Gaza Strip to train a 30,000-strong police force to maintain security in the territory during and after the promised Israeli pullout.

"The prospect of withdrawal represents an opportunity not to be missed," Ladsous said.

Barnier, who is also expected to meet Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei and other senior Palestinian officials during his two-day stay will also underline that "everything must be done to prevent the spiral of violence taking hold again," he added.

A senior Israeli official said on Sunday that Barnier's visit to the embattled head of the Palestinian Authority was a "serious mistake."

Sharon's government, having declared Arafat an obstacle to peace, has been trying to persuade European Union governments to follow the United States' lead and cut off all contacts with him.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article