French FM Due in Jordan for Talks on Mideast Peace Process
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine is due to arrive in Amman Thursday for a five-day visit to consult with officials on the latest developments in the region's troubled peace process.
"My visit is part of the regular consultations between our two countries concerning the Middle East peace process," Vedrine said in an interview published Thursday by the Jordanian daily Al-Rai.
"It is very important for France to know Jordan's assessment of the developments and problems facing the region," Vedrine was quoted as saying.
Vedrine's visit is the latest in a series of French diplomatic efforts to evaluate the Arab-Israeli peace process, which is floundering on the Syrian and Palestinian tracks.
The French minister is also due to discuss the consequences of an Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon.
Vedrine said that while France welcomes the decision, Paris "still prefers that this withdrawal takes place within the framework of a comprehensive settlement" in the region.
"We have always said that France would be ready to take part in security guarantees and arrangements within a comprehensive agreement," that would namely involve an agreement between Syria and Israel, Vedrine said.
He also voiced hope that Syria and Israel will bury their differences despite the failure of a summit last month in Geneva between US President Bill Clinton and his Syrian counterpart Hafez al-Assad.
Vedrine also reiterated French backing for the creation of an independent Palestinian state as part of a settlement with Israel, which he said must also guarantee Israel's security needs.
The peace process was also the topic of discussion Wednesday between Jordan's foreign minister and the European Envoy to the Middle East Migel Angel Moratinos.
The official Petra News Agency said their conversation focused on the latest developments on the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese tracks.
It added Moratinos told Khatib about "the results of his recent contacts with the parties concerned with the peace process, including US Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross --(Agencies).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)