France welcomes Mideast talks, hails US role

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France welcomed the announcement of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks Friday and praised the United States for its apparent success in getting the Middle East foes back to the table.

"France hails the launch of the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, after Washington invited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to talks from September 2.

"I also salute the American effort which allowed this enterprise to get under way, crucial as it is to peace in the region," he added.

"To be useful and to succeed these talks should address all elements linked to final status, on the basis of the parameters agreed by the international community," he said, laying out these parameters as France sees them.

"I call on both parties to act responsibly so these negotiations can make rapid progress with a view to creating a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel."

Kouchner noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had recently met both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and had assured them of French support for peace-building efforts.

"France once more asks both parties to refrain from any actions that could jeopardise future progress," Kouchner added, in a statement from his ministry.

© 2010 AFP

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