No mistake at UN, French far-right leader says
France's far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Friday her meeting with the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations was not the result of a mixup, despite claims to the contrary by the diplomatic mission.
"No one can imagine for half a second that the ambassador took the wrong door," Le Pen said a day after the gathering which was aimed at countering her party's xenophobic image.
"One cannot talk with Marine Le Pen for 20 minutes without knowing who the person is," the French politician said.
After Thursday's meeting at UN headquarters in New York, Israel's UN mission said ambassador Ron Prosor had gone to the event through a "misunderstanding."
Le Pen said however after the session that she hoped his presence had proved that her National Front party had turned the page after incendiary remarks made by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen about Nazi gas chambers.
Marine Le Pen said there was not "the least ambiguity" about the meeting.
About 30 people were invited to the meeting by Le Pen's entourage. Among diplomats, only Prosor, the deputy ambassador for Japan, Kazuo Kodama, the Trinidad and Tobago ambassador Rodney Charles, Uruguay's envoy Jose Luis Cancela and Armenia's Garen Nazarian attended.
The Israeli ambassador left after less than 20 minutes, before the formal lunch started.
"The ambassador was there through a misunderstanding," said Israeli mission spokeswoman Karean Peretz, without elaborating.
On leaving, Prosor said diplomatically "we flourish on the diversity of ideas. We talked about Europe, about other issues and I enjoyed the conversation very much."
Le Pen is credited with 17-19 percent support in French opinion polls and is on the US tour seeking to bolster her image. She denies her party is anti-immigrant.
However, many people still associate the National Front with 1987 comments made by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen that World War II Nazi death camps were a "detail of history."
The French politician said it was the first time she had met with an Israeli official, and said she was ready to travel to Israel if she received a formal invitation.
© 2011 AFP