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News Brief


Ehud Olmert won rare French endorsement for Israel and its diplomatic policies.

The Israeli prime minister, on a European tour to drum up support ahead of his U.S.-sponsored peace conference with the Palestinians, was hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Monday.

Israeli officials quoted Sarkozy as telling Olmert that he considers Israel’s creation a “miracle” of the 20th century. Though the French president had a Jewish grandfather, he described his pro-Israel sentiments as less a matter of ancestry and more an acknowledgment of the country’s role in introducing democracy to the Middle East.

During his meeting with Olmert, Sarkozy reiterated his strenuous opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and said Israel’s security is a “red line” that must not be crossed. But France has yet to support the idea of preventive military action as a last resort for blocking Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

In a further departure from France’s traditional equivocation on Middle East affairs, Sarkozy came out against the Palestinians’ demand that their refugees get a “right of return” to land now in Israel. According to Israeli officials, Sarkozy said it is unreasonable for Palestinians to expect statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip while wanting their compatriots resettled in the neighboring Jewish state.

Olmert traveled to London Tuesday for talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

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