Olmert in Paris 298 ch 1.
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in France on Monday to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Olmert was to meet Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner for lunch at the presidential Elysée Palace. Later Monday he was to see Prime Minister François Fillon and meet with members of France's Jewish community.
The following day, Olmert is to fly to London for talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. His visits take place amid international pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a common vision of a final peace deal before a Middle East peace conference, expected to take place in the United States later this year.
The Palestinians want a detailed joint statement on what peace talks are to produce, complete with a timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel is seeking greater flexibility and wants a broad statement with fewer specific commitments.
Sarkozy said Friday he would tell the Israeli leader that the time had come for a Middle East treaty. He said he has given the same message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
During his visits, Olmert was also expected to push for international backing for a fresh set of sanctions on Iran to pressure it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Israel maintains that Iran is a threat to its existence and has hinted in the past that it could strike militarily if the international community allows Iran to develop nuclear arms. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who insists his country's nuclear ambitions are peaceful, has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction.