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Source: France
10 September 2007

Visit to the Mideast of Mr. Bernard Kouchner (September 10-13, 2007)

In Israel

In Israel he was received by President Shimon Peres. He also met with Prime Minister Olmert, his counterpart Tzipi Livni, and the country’s main political officials-the vice premier and minister in the Prime Minister’s office, Chaim Ramon, the deputy prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak, and the head of Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu.

During his visit to Israel, he also met with Noam Shalit, the father of the soldier Gilad Shalit, who holds the Israeli and French nationalities and was abducted in June 2006.

He also paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem and inaugurated the new French-Israeli school Mikve Israel.

-  Interview given by M. Bernard Kouchner to the Israeli "Yediot Ahronoth" newspaper (excerpts), (Paris, 7 September 2007)

 In the Palestinian Territories

On the Palestinian side, Mr. Kouchner met the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

A meeting was also slated with Tony Blair, the Quartet’s special envoy to the Mideast. It provided an opportunity to take stock of Mr. Blair’s contacts in the context of his first regional tour.

A meeting with NGOs and international organizations assessed the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories.

Finally, the minister inaugurated the Chateaubriand French Cultural Center.  

This visit comes at an important time for regional peace and stability. For the first time in seven years, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have resumed serious talks. For several weeks, contacts have been stepped up between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert, as well as between Ms. Livni and Mr. Fayyad. This is the time to revive the political process, with the aim of creating a viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel. The minister expressed our country’s support for this new dynamic that we believe should lead to real negotiations on the final status of the Palestinian Territories. He indicated that France, alongside the EU and the international community as a whole, is determined to support any useful initiative promoting an effective revival of the peace process.

In Jordan

After his trip to Israel and the Territories, the minister traveled to Jordan and Egypt. His discussions there were aimed at expanding the dialogue with these major players on the regional scene.

In Jordan, the minister met with King Abdullah and his counterpart, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib. This trip follows on the King’s recent visit to Paris, where he was received by the President. It helped extend our consultations with Jordan on regional issues, notably the revival of the peace process.

In Egypt

The minister will continue his trip in Egypt, where he went in July. In Cairo, he will be received by President Hosni Mubarak. In the framework of these consultations, he will meet with his counterpart, Abul Gheit, and the defense minister. He will also meet with the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. The minister will hear the views of Egypt and the Arab League on the revival of the peace process and on the crises affecting the region’s stability.

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