Sarkozy hints France could recognise Palestinian state

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France may recognise an independent Palestinian state this year if peace talks are not back on track by September, President Nicolas Sarkozy hinted in comments published Tuesday.

"If the peace process is still dead in September, France will face up to its responsibilities on the central question of recognition of a Palestinian state," he said in an interview in L'Express magazine's Wednesday edition.

"The idea that there is still plenty of time is dangerous. Things have to be brought to a conclusion" before a UN gathering in September, he added.

US-brokered peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians last September broke down over Israeli settlement activity. The Palestinians are standing by a target date of next September for declaring an independent state.

Sarkozy said European powers planned in the next few months "to relaunch the peace process along with the Americans, because Europe cannot be the main one paying for Palestine and yet remain a minor figure politically in the matter."

He urged the United States to "get more involved" in the peace process and called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he is due to meet in Paris on Thursday, to "take the risk of peace".

"I think he must say more clearly that the Palestinians have a right to their own state and act accordingly," Sarkozy said of Netanyahu. "Israel cannot simply pursue its economic development in the occupied territories."

© 2011 AFP

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