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France confirmed it is trying to arrange a meeting between Ehud Olmert and Bashar Assad in Paris next month.

The Israeli prime minister is due to attend a July 13 conference of Mediterranean states in France and has been urging his French hosts to arrange a meeting for him with the Syrian president should he also attend.

“We see now Mr. Olmert is suggesting that the summit of the 13th could be an opportunity for direct contacts,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s chief of staff, Claude Gueant, told Europe 1 radio Wednesday.

“I don’t know if that will be the case, but in any case there is much at stake and it is France’s role as a peacemaker to try to ensure that it works.”

Syrian officials have indicated that Assad would be reluctant to meet face to face with Olmert at this stage, though the two leaders launched indirect peace talks last month.

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