French President Discusses Jerusalem with Arafat
French President Jacques Chirac and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat discussed the latest developments in the Middle East peace process in a telephone conversation Wednesday, Chirac's office said. In Cairo, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak warned that a break in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could plunge the region into danger.
"At this very important time in the peace process in the Middle East, the conversation focused in particular on Jerusalem," said a spokesman for the president.
Chirac met Israel's acting foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami late Tuesday in Paris, but no statement was made after their meeting.
France, which currently holds the six-monthly rotating presidency of the European Union, is playing a role as 'facilitator' in the Middle East peace process.
Israel and the Palestinians resumed contact Wednesday but peacemaking remained on tenterhooks, soured by Israel's declaration the day before it was suspending talks and its subsequent about-face hours later.
MUBARAK WARNS ON DANGER OF BREAK IN MIDDLE EAST PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Wednesday that a break in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could plunge the region into danger, Information Minister Safwat Sherif said.
His comments came as the two sides resumed contact after Israel suspended talks for a day, while the Palestinians accused the Israelis of trying to pressure their leader Yasser Arafat with their 24-hour "time out."
"Mubarak stressed the danger of bias towards one side at the expense of the other and the danger of Israeli intransigence and attempts to pressure the Palestinians to make concessions on their legitimate rights," Sherif said.
"A break in negotiations represents a step backwards and all these things place the region in a complicated and dangerous situation," Mubarak continued, according to Sherif, quoted by the state-owned MENA news agency.
Mubarak told a gathering of his ruling National Democratic Party that Egypt "respects the resolutions of the (United Nations) Security Council, which provide for Palestinian sovereignty over east Jerusalem and the holy places." - (AFP)
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