Ehud Olmert
Photo: AFP

After Putin, PM set to discuss Iran with Sarkozy, Brown

Olmert to set out on 60-hour mission to Paris, London on Sunday in attempt to win support from European leaders for negotiations with Palestinians and tightening of sanctions on Iran

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to leave Sunday on a three day trip to Europe where he will attempt to get the support of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for Israel's position on negotiations with the Palestinians and a tightening of sanctions on Iran.


The Israeli assumption is that from now until the Annapolis conference, the international pressure on the Jewish state will only intensify. The majority of the pressure will come from the US but European states will also exert some pressure.


The pressure will concern two central issues: the hardships faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in wake of the cabinet's characterization of Gaza as a 'hostile entity;' and an international push for Israel to make major concessions at the Annapolis conference with the goal of establishing a Palestinian state.


Olmert managed to gain the support of previous French and British governments after they understood the constant threat of terrorism that Israel is faced with from the Gaza Strip.


'Closer to point of no return'

Gaining the support of the two freshly-elected European leaders is a must ,especially in wake of the stepped-up pace of peace negotiations ahead of the Annapolis summit scheduled for late November.


Dealing with the Iranian issue has become particularly urgent for Israel in light of the fact that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are expected to decide soon whether or not to tighten sanctions on the Islamic Republic, which has refused to halt its uranium enrichment efforts.


The French government supports the tightening of sanctions, and following his recent visit to the Middle East Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner raised the possibility of a military strike against Iran to stop its nuclear program.


Olmert is expected to present Sarkozy (Monday) and Brown (Tuesday) with intelligence information regarding Tehran's intentions and convey Israel's concern over the international community's foot-dragging on the matter, which, according to the prime minister, only brings Iran closer and closer to "the point of no return" – when the country will be able to use its nuclear know-how for military purposes.


Foreign Minster Tzipi Livni will replace Olmert until his expected return to the country on Wednesday. The prime minister is scheduled to leave for Berlin in a few weeks' time. 


פרסום ראשון: 10.20.07, 23:33
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