French, Syrian foreign ministers meet in Paris to prepare summit

The foreign ministers of France and Syria have met in Paris to prepare July 12 talks between Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Bashar Assad. Sarkozy's office announced the talks earlier this week in a major sign of change in frosty French-Syrian relations. The two presidents are to meet in Paris on the eve of a summit of dozens of leaders of European and Mediterranean countries. There have been clear hopes in Paris that the event could lead to separate talks between the leaders of Syria and Israel. The French Foreign Ministry said Saturday that Bernard Kouchner and his counterpart, Walid al-Mouallem, used their working dinner Friday to discuss the Middle East peace process - but made no mention of a Syrian-Israeli encounter.