Sarkozy to discuss Gaza with Palestinian leader

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas next week to discuss events in Gaza and the stalled Middle East peace process, his office said Friday.

Sarkozy will on Monday host Abbas for a working lunch at the Elysee place, just days after the Palestinian leader met in Washington with President Barack Obama, who called the situation in Gaza "unsustainable."

"The talks will touch on the situation in the Middle East, in particular in Gaza, the peace process and Franco-Palestinian cooperation," said a statement from Sarkozy's office.

Long-stalled efforts to forge Mideast peace have been further hampered by a deadly May 31 Israeli raid against an aid flotilla seeking to break the blockade on Gaza.

France and other EU countries have urged Israel to agree to an international inquiry on the raid that left nine Turkish nationals dead.

Abbas is calling for an end to the "siege" of the Palestinian people, referring to the Israeli blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip.

France, Spain and Italy on Friday called for Israel to lift its blockade, in place since 2007, and suggested EU authorities inspect goods entering the strip by sea or land to check for weapons.

The foreign ministers of the three countries made the offer in a joint opinion piece published in the International Herald Tribune.

© 2010 AFP

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