PARIS (JTA) — Protesters outside called Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman "a fascist" while he met with his French counterpart.
Lieberman met Tuesday evening in Paris with Bernard Kouchner as part of his first official trip abroad since taking up his Cabinet post.
“Lieberman, a bothersome visitor,” quipped the headline on a story Tuesday for the online version of the French weekly Journal du Dimanche. The paper cited the Israeli minister’s “nefarious” views, such as past criticism of the international agreements toward the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process launched in Annapolis in 2007.
Some far left-leaning politicians and pro-Palestinian groups have asked that Lieberman be refused an official welcome because of his “ultra-nationalism and his violent and racist opinions,” a Communist Party spokesman told the weekly.
Outside the Quai d’Orsay, where Lieberman spoke with Kouchner and General Secretary to the President Claude Guéant, some 150 pro-Palestinian protesters called Lieberman a “fascist” who should “get out of here.”
Journalists were not allowed to interview the foreign ministers following their meeting, but in a written statement French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said Kouchner asked Lieberman to “urgently” work toward the peaceful creation of a Palestinian state.
Kouchner also repeated French advocacy for “a complete stop to settlement creation, including those [settlements[ which are linked to economic growth,” said the statement.
Lieberman spoke of the importance of improving the Palestinian economy and explained how Israel was working to set national policy on the peace process, according to a statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry. The leaders also discussed Iran, and Lieberman asked Kouchner to pressure the Russian government to break off relations with Hamas and Hezbollah during a meeting next week.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is not expected to meet with Lieberman during the Paris visit.
Lieberman was scheduled to meet with Jewish community leaders from the CRIF umbrella organization on Tuesday evening.