French foreign minister to Gaza next week: spokesman

14th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

France's Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories as part of a tour of the Middle East next week, her office said on Friday.

"This visit will be a chance to send a number of messages to regional players and tackle regional questions and the state of our bilateral relations with each of our partners," ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters.

He said Alliot-Marie would visit Egypt and Jordan as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories including Gaza, controlled by the Hamas movement, during the tour from January 19 to 23.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in September but collapsed three weeks later over Israel's building of settlements.

Hamas on Thursday ordered security forces to ensure militant groups observed a truce on firing rockets at Israel.

The French minister's tour does not include a visit to Lebanon, which was plunged into a fresh political crisis on Wednesday when its government collapsed.

© 2011 AFP

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