Sarkozy meets with Middle East leaders in Paris

French president hosts Foreign Minister Livni and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

July 4, 2007 12:44
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New French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government were holding a flurry of meetings Wednesday on the Middle East, hosting King Abdullah II of Jordan and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Sarkozy was to meet first with Abdullah, followed by talks with Livni. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was also meeting with Livni. Following Sarkozy's election in May, a slight shift is expected in France's relations in the Middle East. Sarkozy has reached out to France's 5 million Muslims, but he also has been more open to Israel than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. After Sarkozy's election, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed confidence that Israeli-French relations would improve. Sarkozy's Middle East talks began Friday with a visit by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas said he won France's full support for the Palestinian Authority and $20 million in aid. In separate talks Wednesday in Paris, Livni also met her Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Benaissa. The meetings were among the occasional contacts between their countries despite a seven-year chill in relations.

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