Abbas pushes Gaza plans with French officials

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pressed his goals for the future of Gaza with French officials on Tuesday, as Egyptian mediators met with members of Hamas - the group that ousted Abbas from the Gaza Strip. Abbas is on a European tour seeking to ensure that his moderate Fatah party is not sidelined from diplomatic efforts for durable peace in Gaza. He wants support for a Palestinian unity government and a role in rebuilding the impoverished territory, where scattered violence is threatening what Abbas called a fragile cease-fire. France helped broker the truce, and Abbas was in Paris on Tuesday meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and the president of the lower house of France's parliament, Bernard Accoyer. After talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday night, Abbas said he backed Egypt-led efforts for Palestinian reconciliation. That is seen as crucial to forming a lasting cease-fire between Hamas and Israel after a three-week Israeli offensive on Gaza.