France's Hollande meets Abbas, calls for renewal of talks

New French president has first meeting with PA counterpart since taking over for Sarkozy, says, "We must do everything to facilitate the recognition of a Palestinian state via a negotiated process."

Hollande and Abbas 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hollande and Abbas 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PARIS - French President Francois Hollande said on Friday everything must be done to relaunch a long-stalled Middle East peace process that could lead to the recognition of a Palestinian state.
"Today, we must do everything to facilitate the recognition of a Palestinian state via a negotiated process," Hollande told a news conference following a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris.
"I affirm this before President Abbas: dialogue must start again and the sooner the better," Hollande, flanked by Abbas, said.
Prior to the meeting with Abbas, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent national security adviser Ya'akov Amidror to Paris to meet Hollande and new French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday.
One official said it was unusual for Netanyahu to send a personal envoy to a newly elected leader, rather than working through Israel’s local ambassador to pass on messages. He said this could indicate an attempt to ensure that the new Socialist government remains as tough on the Iranian issue as was the government of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Dispatching Amidror to Paris, however, could also have been to brief the new French leadership on Israel’s position on the Palestinian issue before Abbas presented his case.
A statement put out by the Elysee said that Amidror brought a personal message from Netanyahu. The content of that message was not revealed.
The French said Hollande expressed France’s desire to deepen bilateral ties between the countries and to develop the existing ties between the French and Israeli societies in all fields. Hollande said he was interested in meeting Netanyahu soon, though no date for a visit was set.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not issue any statement about the meeting, or Amidror’s meeting that same day with Fabius.
Amidror frequently makes quick diplomatic trips to foreign capitals, but these are done discretely and without any accompanying publicity.
Amidror likes to work in the shadows, one government official said.
The French Foreign Ministry said the two men discussed France’s commitment to a peace agreement in the Middle East, as well as its unyielding determination on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.