France tells Lieberman peace process urgent

France told Israel's new foreign minister Tuesday that restarting Mideast peace talks is urgent and that building new Israeli settlements must end, the French Foreign Ministry said. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner gave that message to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman while meeting him on his first tour of Europe since the new government took office on April 1 and began devising its strategies for the region. Kouchner "recalled the expectations of France, in particular the creation of a viable Palestinian state coexisting in peace and security with Israel," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the talks. He also "asked for a complete halt to colonization (building settlements)," the statement said. France also stressed the need for a permanent reopening to passages to the Gaza Strip to ease the economic and humanitarian situation there.