French FM dubs 2005 'year of peace' in Mideast

13th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 12 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has said in an interview published on Monday that 2005 should be the "year of peace" in the Middle East.

PARIS, Dec 12 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has said in an interview published on Monday that 2005 should be the "year of peace" in the Middle East.

"There is without any doubt a new situation. 2005 should be the year of peace," he said in the interview in Le Parisien newspaper.

"It is possible, given the new context," he said, referring to Israel's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip by the end of 2005.

He said that European countries, and in particular France, were prepared to play a role in relaunching the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

He described the Israeli decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip as a "courageous decision as long as it is the first stage in a process leading to two states of Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognised borders".

He urged Palestinians to treat Israel's security demands seriously, saying the European Union could help to guarantee the management of international frontiers around Gaza.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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