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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke is a serious blow to Mideast peace efforts, former US President Bill Clinton said in Paris on Monday.
Clinton, in France for talks with President Jacques Chirac, said Israelis should view Sharon as an example.
"Mr. Sharon had not only withdrawn from Gaza, he had started a new party with the purpose of continuing to push for peace," Clinton said. "All of us who believe in peace in the Middle East are in his debt, and so more than anything else, I pray for his health."
The Israeli leader's illness "puts yet another obstacle in the path of the peacemakers," Clinton said. "And it's almost as if God were testing them one more time to rise again, to keep on."
Palestinians "need to keep working to restrain the terror and violence," Clinton said.
Clinton also recalled his own experiences in Mideast peace talks throughout the 1990s.
"One thing I've learned after working in this area for so many years is that it's not a question of perfect, it's a question of making tomorrow better than today," Clinton said. "And that requires giving people something specific to think about, something to do, that will bring them together and not drive them apart."