President Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to the Middle East next week, his office announced, as France kept up the pressure on Israel to end fighting in Gaza despite Israel's rejection of a temporary truce.
Sarkozy will meet Monday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before dining with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem.
Continuing his whirlwind tour, the French president to travel to Syria and Lebanon the following day, Tuesday, for further talks with regional leaders, the president's office said in a statement late Wednesday.
But Israeli officials on Wednesday rejected calls for an immediate 48-hour pause in Israel's five-day assault on Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Israeli officials said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had pushed for such a stoppage, in part to ensure humanitarian aid to victims in Gaza.
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