Palestinian FM in France for talks on resuming aid

2nd April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 1, 2007 (AFP) - Palestinian foreign minister Ziad Abu Amr arrived in Paris Sunday on his first visit to a European capital since a unity cabinet was sworn in two weeks ago, brightening prospects for a resumption of aid.

PARIS, April 1, 2007 (AFP) - Palestinian foreign minister Ziad Abu Amr arrived in Paris Sunday on his first visit to a European capital since a unity cabinet was sworn in two weeks ago, brightening prospects for a resumption of aid.

Abu Amr was due to meet with Palestinian groups in France later in the day before holding talks on Monday with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy.

He meets with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Tuesday.

The visit will provide an opportunity to discuss "how we can resume our direct financial aid" to the Palestinian government, foreign ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said last week.

Abu Amr is an independent in the new government formed in March that unites the radical Hamas Islamist movement with moderates in hope that the West will lift an aid and diplomatic embargo.

Speaking to AFP, he declined to comment on prospects for resuming aid, saying that would be discussed with Douste-Blazy on Monday.

But he stressed that there should not be any "discrimination" between Hamas members of government and those from the Fatah faction of president Mahmud Abbas.

"We welcome France's support for the government of national unity but we reject any discrimination between the ministers of this government," he said.

France has said it would resume contacts with Palestinian government members not belonging to Hamas and has called for a resumption of European aid to the Palestinians. 

Abu Amr's three-day visit to France came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to seize the opportunity to revive their stalled peace talks.

In talks with Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Merkel called on the Palestinian unity government to explicitly renounce violence, recognise Israel and agree to abide by past peace deals -- conditions the West has imposed for resuming direct aid to the cabinet.

Abbas separately told Merkel that the new unity government had met international demands and that it should be recognized.

The international community froze aid and contacts with the Palestinian government in March 2006 when Hamas, which won democratic elections, took power and refused to recognize Israel.

Many Western powers have eased their boycott by agreeing to meet non-Hamas ministers, but have so far refused to resume direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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