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French Minister Says Israel Can Take Part in E.u. Decisions

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has agreed to have Israel take part in working committees that decide members’ participation in European Union joint research and development projects.

Industry and Commerce Minister Michael Harish made the announcement this week, after a visit to Israel by an E.U. delegation of French, German and Spanish foreign ministers.

The move may clear the way for the signing of a free-trade agreement between Israel and the European Union. Negotiations have been hung up over objections from Harish that Israel would be obligated to pay an annual membership fee of $30 million without having any say on how the money would be spent.

Harish said the French senior diplomat promised to make every effort for Israel to have observers at committee meetings.

Despite this latest development, Harish said that negotiations surrounding the free-trade agreement would continue for several months.