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State Dept. sees state bids to tie SNCF deals to reparations as ‘obstacle’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Bids by state legislatures to tie contracts with a French rail company to extracting Holocaust-era reparations “pose a serious obstacle” to achieving reparations, the State Department said.

“The United States and France have entered into discussions of compensation for victims of deportations by rail from France to Nazi labor and death camps as well as for victims’ families,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday.

“It is our mutual aim to conclude these talks as quickly as possible,” she said. “Recent initiatives of certain state legislatures, such as New York and Maryland, have begun to pose a serious obstacle to achieving this goal. We strongly urge all concerned to avoid actions that undermine the ongoing compensation talks.”

SNCF, which is owned by the French government, transported Jews to the death camps during the Holocaust.

The Maryland, New York, Florida and California legislatures are considering laws that would bar SNCF from obtaining state contracts until it pays reparations to the survivors now living in the United States.

Maryland’s state legislature ended its current session this week without considering a bill that would have required SNCF to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors in order to work on a new line. The bill did not progress past committee hearings.

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