Sarkozy (L) and Netanyahu
Photo: Reuters

Netanyahu to Sarkozy: Immediate talks with Syria

After Paris meeting, Israeli, French leaders say they agreed to 'deploy all efforts' toward 'immediately reviving the peace process'; also discuss Iranian nuclear program. Barak says time is right for starting negotiations with Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have tried to find ways to revive Mideast peace efforts but announced no progress on their differences over Jewish settlements.


During the meeting Netanyahu reportedly told Sarkozy that Israel was willing to launch immediate peace negotiations with Syria with no preconditions.


Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that the time was right to enter negotiations with Syria. 


"One must always remember our vital security interests but one mustn't dismiss the signals of a willingness to achieve peace emanating from Damascus lately," the minister said in Tel Aviv.


Netanyahu and Sarkozy met for more than an hour and a half in Paris on Wednesday. When they emerged, they shook hands but did not speak to reporters.


In a joint statement, they said they "agreed to deploy all efforts" toward "immediately reviving the peace process."


They also discussed international efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program, and Netanyahu lauded France's firm position on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.


A member of Netanyahu's entourage called the meeting "warm and cordial," adding that the Israeli PM briefed Sarkozy on his recent meeting with US President Barack Obama and the efforts to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.


Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu met with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and suggested that Israel and France cooperate on two main issues: Solar energy and water desalination.


The PM is not scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, but members of his entourage stressed that this is not indicative of strained relations between the two, adding that they are expected to meet during Kouchner's trip to Israel next week.


On Tuesday Kouchner said France fears that Israel no longer desires a Middle East peace deal, adding that Paris remained deeply opposed to Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.


Roni Sofer and Gilad Halpern contributed to the report 


פרסום ראשון: 11.11.09, 21:45
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