US envoy to visit France, Libya, Oman

17th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Aug 16, 2007 (AFP) - The top American diplomat for Middle East affairs will travel to France, Libya and Oman next week for discussions on a wide range of issues, the State Department said Thursday.

WASHINGTON, Aug 16, 2007 (AFP) - The top American diplomat for Middle East affairs will travel to France, Libya and Oman next week for discussions on a wide range of issues, the State Department said Thursday.

David Welch's first stop will be Paris, where his topics of discussions with French counterparts will include Syria, which has been implicated in a UN probe over the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, and efforts to resolve the Palestinian question, the department said.

They will talk about "the US-French partnership on supporting Lebanon, supporting (efforts to) bringing to justice the killers of former prime minister Hariri," said department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The Netherlands plans to host the international court that will try suspects in Hariri's murder. The tribunal will also have jurisdiction over other attacks against anti-Syrian Lebanese figures carried out between October 2004 and December 2005 if they are linked to the Hariri slaying.

In Libya, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs Welch will help lay the groundwork for a potential visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tripoli.

Rice had expressed willingness to visit Libya soon, following the recent return to Bulgaria of six medics freed from life sentences in the north African state.

US President George W. Bush had recently named a US ambassador to Libya for the first time in decades and Rice's trip could signal the beginning of a new era in relations.

In May 2006, Washington renewed diplomatic ties with Libya, ending a 25-year-old diplomatic battle with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and taking the country off the US list of nations accused of supporting terrorism.

In Oman, Welch will discuss regional issues, including Iraq and efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, McCormack said.

The United States is striving to forge a deal for the establishment of a Palestinian state ahead of an international meeting called for by Bush in the last three months of 2007.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said last week he had positive talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the West Bank city of Jericho, the first time in seven years that such a high-level meeting has taken place on Palestinian territory.

AFP

Subject: French news

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