Chirac urges new meeting of Quartet for Mideast peace

Letter from Abbas apparently seeking greater French support, Chirac's spokesman says.

chirac 88 (photo credit: )
chirac 88
(photo credit: )
French President Jacques Chirac on Monday urged a new meeting of the international "Quartet" of Mideast mediators after meeting with Palestinian envoy Ahmed Qurei. Qureia, a former prime minister, carried a letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas apparently seeking greater French support, Chirac's spokesman said. At the talks, Chirac proposed a new meeting of the Quartet of world powers that sponsored the 2003 "road map" peace plan - the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations. He gave no date for a possible reunion, but expressed "hope for rapid progress," spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said. The EU also wants to get back to the "road map" and is hoping to reconvene the Quartet. The plan, which stalled soon after its launch in 2003, calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Qurei, who helped negotiate the 1993 Oslo accords, warned that the Palestinians' political stalemate could turn into a humanitarian crisis if it is not solved soon. Qurei said he and Chirac discussed Palestinian efforts to create a government of national unity, and that if a "clear and precise program" emerges, he expected French support for such a government. Abbas is seeking to forge unity among rival factions and persuade the radical Hamas to renounce violence. Chirac also insisted that Palestinian gunmen release an Israeli soldier whose capture led to the current Israeli offensive in Gaza, Bonnafont said.