Abbas seeks French, German advice on Palestinian state

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Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has told AFP he will visit France next week and Germany in May to seek advice on the creation of a Palestinian state.

"We will ask the Europeans: I will go to France... on 21st, and next month I will be in Germany. I was in England and Denmark, and Russia of course, tour around the world, to ask 'what shall we do?' because we want their advice," he said in the interview late on Friday conducted in English.

"We will ask (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy for his advice. We are friends, so he can be sincere with us and to talk to us openly," Abbas said.

On Wednesday, France said it regretted the postponement of a Middle East Quartet meeting due in Berlin on Friday aimed at breaking the peace process deadlock.

Direct Israel-Palestinian talks ended in late September when Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlement building in the occupied territories.

The United States vetoed an Arab resolution put to the UN Security Council in February that would have condemned the Israeli settlements.

Diplomats at the United Nations said Friday's meeting was put off because the United States was blocking a European bid to break the stalemate.

"We regret the postponement of the Quartet meeting set to be held in Berlin on April 15," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told journalists in Paris.

"We call on the Quartet to adopt as soon as possible a statement detailing final status issues -- notably borders and security -- so that direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians can resume on this basis," he said.

Top officials from the Quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia and the UN -- had already had one meeting in March pushed back.

Britain, France and Germany had wanted to use the Berlin Quartet meeting to propose the outline of a final settlement for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

They have been pressing for a Quartet statement, setting out the framework for a deal such as borders and a land swap, which they hoped would revive direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

© 2011 AFP

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