G8: end Arab repression, restart Israel-Palestinian talks

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G8 leaders meeting in France are to call for an end to the bloody repression of protests in Libya and Syria and for Israel and the Palestinians swiftly to engage in meaningful peace talks.

The summit on Thursday thrust the so-called Arab Spring to the front of its agenda, with thousands killed in Libya and Syria as popular revolts that toppled strongman regimes in Tunisia and Egypt spread through the region.

"We demand the immediate cessation of the use of force against civilians by (Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi's regime and support a political solution that reflects the will of the Libyan people," the draft summit statement said.

"We call on the Syrian leadership to stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to engage in dialogue and fundamental reforms in response to the legitimate expression of the demand of the Syrian people.

The G8 said that it was rewarding the new governments in Tunisia and Egypt with a partnership to develop the democratic rule of law, and also called on stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to resume immediately.

"Democracy lays the best path to peace, stability, prosperity, shared growth and development," the statement said, adding that G8 leaders had already met with Egyptian and Tunisian prime ministers Essam Sharaf and Beji Caid Essebsi.

We "decided to launch an enduring partnership with those countries engaging in a transition to democracy and tolerant societies.

Our common goal is to develop the rule of law and citizen engagement as well as foster economic and social reforms to meet the aspirations of the people."

"We are convinced that the historical changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestine conflict through negotiations more important, not less," it added.

"We urge both parties to engage without delay in substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues."

Direct peace talks collapsed last year because of ongoing Jewish settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, prompting the Palestinian leadership to seek United Nations recognition of their promised state on 1967 borders.

US President Barack Obama, who is in Deauville, has however warned that such a move would be a mistake, insisting on the resumption of talks and that peace would only work if both sides agreed to a "wrenching compromise."

© 2011 AFP

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