Sarkozy briefs Abbas, Mitchell

PARIS (JTA) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy met in Paris with Mahmoud Abbas and George Mitchell to discuss strengthening the fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, told reporters Monday night following the meeting that he hoped Europe would play a more "political" supportive role in the Middle East. Abbas began a tour of Europe on Monday, where he is expected to ask for a more unified Palestinian government, including Hamas, but with his own Fatah Party at the helm, the French news agency AFP reported.

Abbas also told reporters that last week’s call by Hamas leaders for the replacement of Fatah was "totally unacceptable." Nevertheless he said, "We should dialogue with Hamas."

As part of Sarkozy’s continued investment in Middle East negotiations for peace, the French leader also met earlier Monday with Mitchell, the newly appointed special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, and Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani of Qatar. 

Mitchell, who just completed a tour of the region, reportedly was briefed on the French government’s efforts at solidifying a Gaza cease-fire.

Abbas will travel to Britain, Turkey, Poland and Italy later this week.

 

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