Israel snub forces Barnier to reschedule visit

1st July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 1 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Thursday he would travel to Israel "in a few weeks' time" after being snubbed by Israeli leaders this week for holding talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

PARIS, July 1 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Thursday he would travel to Israel "in a few weeks' time" after being snubbed by Israeli leaders this week for holding talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"I will go in a few weeks' time to make a bilateral visit to Israel," Barnier told the private RTL radio station, after returning from seeing Arafat, who is confined to his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The French minister's visit met with stern opposition from the Jewish state, which has kept the veteran Palestinian leader confined to his headquarters since December 2001.

Barnier was unable to meet with any Israeli officials this week as the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon systematically refuses to meet any foreign official who visits Arafat.

"I found a man who is indisputably suffering from the situation in which he has been put," Barnier told RTL.

Barnier had called for an end to Israel's confinement of Arafat on Wednesday.

"During my two meetings yesterday with president Arafat, I was able take a take a close measure of the fate that he has been subjected to," Barnier told reporters after meeting with Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei.

"Considering what he represents, (his situation) is not dignifying for him and is not dignifying for the Palestinian people he represents.

"We consider that this situation cannot last as he is the elected and legitimate president" of the Palestinian people, Barnier added.

The French minister also reiterated on RTL that both Paris and the European Union believe "there can be no (peace) agreement without Yasser Arafat".

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

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