France: We're moving ahead with Paris peace conference

Juppe addresses Clinton criticism, says France, US both believe an agreement on parameters must be in place before talks can resume.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
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."
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Clinton explained that the US was taking a "wait and see attitude" to the idea of a conference. The secretary of state 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.
The French foreign minister said that the US desire for an agreed upon framework to be in place prior to the proposed conference coincided with French views. "That's exactly what we have proposed," he said. "We think it is necessary to have an agreement of both the Palestinians and the Israelis on the parameters we are proposing."
Juppe added that he would continue to work with both sides and expected "positive developments during the next weeks."
In a meeting in Washington Tuesday, US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a joint press conference that "unilateral actions such as the Palestinians seeking a vote on statehood at the UN General Assembly should be avoided.
Obama also thanked Merkel for her support of the principles he laid out last month, commending her for "her personal efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table."