Replacing Arafat a priority, says France

17th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 16 (AFP) - Holding successful elections to replace Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestinians is the priority in the Middle East, a spokesman for French President Jacques Chirac said Tuesday.

PARIS, Nov 16 (AFP) - Holding successful elections to replace Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestinians is the priority in the Middle East, a spokesman for French President Jacques Chirac said Tuesday.

"For the moment, the priority in our eyes is clearly the transition in the Palestinian Authority and a successful election," said spokesman Jerome Bonnafont.

"The priority ... is an election which takes place in good conditions, in a manner that strengthens democracy in the region and gives the Palestinian Authority full democratic legitimacy."

An election to replace Arafat has been slated for January 9.

The official said that following Arafat's death last week that "the circumstances should be taken advantage of to relaunch ... dialogue."

Chirac was due to meet on Wednesday visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has also been a strong advocate of quickly undertaking efforts to relaunch the peace process.

Blair, who visited newly re-elected US President George W. Bush last week, failed to get US support to hold a new Middle East peace conference.

According to Bonnafont "the idea of holding an international conference has been supported by Europe for a long time as it seems to us to be a useful way to get everyone around the table and relaunch the dialogue. That remains our view."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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