France says 1967 borders basis for talks: report

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French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Friday reaffirmed the European Union views the 1967 Palestinian borders as the basis on which to conduct peace talks, Al-Quds newspaper reported.

In an interview with the Palestinian daily, Alliot-Marie also reiterated France's commitment to seeing through the creation of an independent Palestinian state by the end of this year.

"The European Union reaffirmed its position very clearly in December 2009, indicating it would not recognise any modification of the 1967 borders unless it was agreed by both parties, including east Jerusalem," she said when asked why the bloc had yet to recognise a Palestinian state along those lines.

Alliot-Marie on Thursday kicked off a four-day tour of the region, first holding talks with Israeli officials before heading to Gaza on Friday, and later to Jordan and Egypt.

Last month, the European Union said it was ready to recognise a Palestinian state at an "appropriate" time, and Alliot-Marie also recalled France was the first in Europe to raise the status of the Palestinian representative's office in Paris to that of an embassy.

The 1967 borders were those which existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the Middle East war of that year.

In the past 22 years, more than 100 countries have recognised Palestinian statehood -- including a raft of South American nations in the last two months. But none of them have been European states.

But the main priority was the "urgent renewal" of peace negotiations between the two sides, said Alliot-Marie who is to meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Amman on Saturday evening.

She also reiterated French President Nicolas Sarkozy's support for the objective of establishing a Palestinian state by 2012 as laid out by the Middle East peace Quartet.

Meeting in Moscow in March 2010, the Quartet of diplomats representing the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the United States set a bold target of March 2012 for a final deal with the Palestinians.

The aim was to work towards a settlement "within 24 months" which would end the occupation and result in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state.

© 2011 AFP

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