French President Jacques Chirac
sent get-well wishes to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon following his massive stroke and said Thursday that the ailing leader's "courageous" peace efforts must continue.
Chirac "hopes the Israeli prime minister will overcome the painful trial he is going through," the president's office said in a statement.
France also offered full support and friendship to Ehud Olmert
, Sharon's deputy who is acting as premier in his place, the statement added.
The French president also said he hoped "the courageous initiatives that Mr. Sharon embarked on, which were praised by the entire international community, will continue."