France to press on with peace conference despite US concern

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Tuesday said that France is moving ahead with an initiative to bring together Israelis and Palestinians at a peace conference in Paris this summer, despite US reservations about the plan, The Associated Press reported.
Addressing the French initiative on Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "there is no agreement that the parties will resume negotiations. And I think the idea of any gathering, a conference or a meeting, has to be linked to a willingness by the parties to resume negotiating." Clinton said that the US was taking a "wait and see attitude" to the idea of a conference. The secretary also expressed reservations about the role Hamas would play in a future Palestinian unity government and how this would fit in with a return to the negotiating table.
Juppe, on Tuesday, expressed optimism, saying that the Palestinians had responded positively to the idea of a peace conference and Israel was studying the proposal.
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