Abbas, US envoy in Paris for Mideast talks

France is taking center stage on Mideast diplomacy, with visits by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the new US envoy to the region and the prime minister of Qatar. Abbas and Qatar's Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani are to meet Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who took an active role in helping broker a cease-fire for Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip. The Gulf state of Qatar has emerged as a regional mediator after it helped resolve a long-standing political crisis in Lebanon last year. Abbas is coming to Paris as part of a tour of European capitals. US envoy George Mitchell is to hold talks Monday with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Last week, Washington' Mideast point man met with Palestinian officials including Abbas.