Sarkozy to meet Israel PM Netanyahu
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is going to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris on Wednesday, the Elysee Palace said Tuesday in a statement, Xinhua reported.
The meeting between Sarkozy and Netanyahu, scheduled at 17:30 local time in Elysee Palace, will discuss about bilateral relations on a range of issues and about re-launching the peace process for Middle East, the statement said.
Netanyahu's visit comes as France is pressing the Jewish country to "freeze" its settlement expansion, which frustrated the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' confidence on the peace talk so much that Abbas has threatened to step down.
Also on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner criticized Israel for its lack of "desire for peace" through France Inter radio, urging "a freeze on settlement... while talks are ongoing, would be absolutely indispensable."
Kouchner underlined "there is real different political opinions" between Sarkozy and Netanyahu.
On the eve to meet Netanyahu, Sarkozy expressed support to Abbas in a telephone conversation, in which he encouraged Abbas to "continue his action in the service of the Palestinians and of peace, and assured him of France's active support to achieve a real revival of peace process on the basis agreed by international communities."
Netanyahu refused Monday to halt settlement expansion as precondition to re-open stalled peace talks, saying "no Israeli government has been so willing to restrain settlement activities as part of an effort to re-launch peace talks."
Some 450,000 Israelis have been residing in over 100 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.