French, Egyptian leaders discuss Mideast peace process

5th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak discussed Monday ways to relaunch the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We looked at initiatives it will be possible to take," Mubarak told reporters after a 45-minute meeting with the French leader that also touched on ties between their countries.

The Israelis and Palestinians began US-mediated indirect talks on May 9 but they were thrown into disarray by Israel's announcement of plans for Jewish settlement construction in occupied and annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

Asked about the possibility of the UN Security Council being called on to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, the Egyptian president said the idea was "premature".

"There are indirect negotiations under way at the moment," he said. "If these negotiations fail, we could perhaps, in this case, think of approaching the Security Council."

Indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians are regarded as a first step towards renewing direct negotiations which collapsed in December 2008 when Israel launched a devastating 22-day offensive on Gaza.

Egypt is one of only two Arab nations to have signed a peace deal with the Jewish state and is a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Sarkozy has said the United States and Europe could take steps in the coming months to relaunch the dialogue.

Paris has said this could happen at a summit of the Union for the Mediterranean which groups 27 European Union countries, Turkey, Israel and Arab countries on the Mediterranean and is due in November in Barcelona.

© 2010 AFP

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