Sarkozy eyes EU Mideast role, says US-led effort not working

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Monday for the European Union to have a greater role in faltering Israel-Palestinian peace talks, saying current US-led efforts were not working.

"This isn't about criticising anybody, in fact I want to pay homage to the considerable efforts of (US) President (Barack) Obama to relaunch the peace process," Sarkozy said after talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"But I observe that, 10 years after Camp David, we have made no progress and perhaps we've even gone backwards in terms of resuming dialogue. You can see there's a methodological problem," he told journalists.

Weeks of talks at then-US president Bill Clinton's Camp David retreat in 2000 almost led to a peace deal, but their failure and the election of a hawkish Israeli government ushered in a Palestinian uprising months later.

Direct Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in September after a 20-month hiatus, under the auspices of the United States but without fellow peace Quartet members the EU, Russia and the United Nations.

"The Quartet and its members must collectively and concretely carry out the supervisory role that is theirs," Sarkozy said.

"We (the EU) don't want to be simply spectators who watch time pass," he said, adding that "we have decided to take initiatives and we are playing this role."

Abbas met Sarkozy as an Israeli moratorium on settlement building on occupied Palestinian land expired, throwing the future of direct peace negotiations between the two sides into uncertainty.

© 2010 AFP

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