Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AFP/nowlebanon: France regrets postponement of European Mideast peace bid

France "regrets" postponement of European Mideast peace bid
April 13, 2011

France said Wednesday it regretted the postponement of a Middle East Quartet
meeting due in Berlin this week aimed at breaking the peace process

Diplomats at the United Nations said Tuesday that the meeting planned for
Friday was put off because the United States was blocking a European bid to
break the stalemate.

"We regret the postponement of the Quartet meeting set to be held in Berlin
on April 15," French foreign ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero told

"We call on the Quartet to adopt as soon as possible a statement detailing
final status issues - notably borders and security - so that direct talks
between Israelis and Palestinians can resume on this basis," he said.

Top officials from the Quartet - the United States, European Union, Russia
and the UN - had already had one meeting in March pushed back.

Britain, France and Germany had wanted to use the Berlin Quartet meeting
this week to propose the outline of a final settlement for the
Israel-Palestinian conflict.

They have been pressing for a Quartet statement, setting out the framework
for a deal such as borders and a land swap, which they hoped would revive
direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told AFP that Britain,
France and Germany "have been working at the highest level for the
acceptance of these parameters to pave the way for the resumption of direct

"It appears that Washington is not yet ready to accept this outline."

Mansour said that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will go to France to
meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy early next week.

The United States set a target date of September this year for an accord on
setting up an independent Palestinian state.

Direct Israel-Palestinian talks ended in late September when Israel refused
to extend a moratorium on settlement building in the occupied territories.
Israel has insisted that all issues, including the settlements, should be
hammered out in direct talks.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon