(photo credit: AP)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday he would tell Prime Minister Ehud Olmert next week that "now is the time" to make peace with the Palestinians.
Olmert was planning to visit Paris on Monday, and Sarkozy said he would make the same case as the one he made to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last month in New York.
"My message to Mr. Olmert will simply be that ... time has come to make peace," Sarkozy told a news conference after an EU summit in Lisbon. "Now is the time to take risks and build a lasting peace."
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she was encouraged by a round of Mideast diplomacy being held in preparation for a US-hosted peace conference, planned for Annapolis, Maryland, later this year, despite divisions between Israel and the Palestinians that could derail it.
Rice said four days of intense discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials had convinced her they were serious about forging a document that, when endorsed at the conference in late November or December, would start the negotiations.