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Sarkozy considering Israel trip over Gaza violence

Sarkozy considering Israel trip over Gaza violence

France is still in talks with Israel about ending the fighting in Gaza despite Israel's rejection of a temporary truce, and President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering a trip to the region, officials said Wednesday.
France, which holds the European Union presidency until midnight, has been vocal in the diplomatic push for peace in Gaza and chaired an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paris on Tuesday to discuss solutions to the conflict.
But Israeli officials on Wednesday rejected calls for an immediate 48-hour pause in Israel's devastating five-day assault on Hamas in Gaza. Israeli officials said Kouchner had pushed for such a stoppage, in part to ensure humanitarian aid to victims in Gaza.
Kouchner did not immediately respond to the rejection. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal, asked about the Israeli decision, said only, "We are pursuing contacts with the Israeli authorities."
Speaking in an online briefing, he said that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's visit to Paris on Thursday would offer an opportunity to discuss solutions proposed by EU foreign ministers to the Gaza violence.
Livni will meet with Sarkozy, who has put his international stature to use in other conflict zones, including to help halt fighting between Russia and Georgia in August.
Kouchner said on RTL radio Wednesday that he and Sarkozy will be in southern Lebanon next week, and "we will see if it is possible to go to Israel."
Sarkozy's office said Wednesday that his schedule is still under discussion for next week. On Tuesday, Sarkozy's spokesman Franck Louvrier had said no Israel trip was planned, though Kouchner's comment suggested plans could change based on developments.
Kouchner also expressed concerns that the Gaza fighting could escalate.
"I hope there are no ground actions," he said on RTL, of the possibility of an Israeli ground offensive in addition to airstrikes on Hamas targets. "I think it won't be a solution and will only increase the number of dead."
While a temporary cease-fire would help to get aid to the needy in Gaza, Kouchner said, "A humanitarian truce is not enough."
"We must return to the peace process," he said.


Updated : 2021-08-05 01:53 GMT+08:00