France urges Quartet Middle East peace meeting

23rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

France called Monday for a meeting of the diplomatic Quartet to kickstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We are calling for a meeting of the Quartet to be held as soon as possible" at the level of foreign ministers and high representatives and the UN secretary general, Bernard Valero, French foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters.

The meeting could produce "a declaration specifying the parameters of a peace agreement which could serve as the basis for direct negotiations between the parties to resume," he added.

The Quartet groups the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.

Peace talks hosted by the United States last year broke down in disagreement over Israeli settlement activity. The Palestinians have set a target of having a Palestinian state recognised at the UN General Assembly in September.

France has taken the lead in recent weeks in pushing to meet the September deadline, hinting it may recognise an independent Palestinian state this year if peace talks are not back on track by then.

US President Barack Obama last week called for an Israeli-Palestinian peace based on their pre-1967 borders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected that but later softened his tone, saying he shared Obama's vision for peace.

France hosts the annual summit of the Group of Eight world powers on Thursday and Friday. Asked whether the Quartet would meet on the sidelines of that summit, Valero said it was up to the members to decide.

© 2011 AFP

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