Russia, France cling to Arafat's legitimacy
Palestine-France, Politics, 7/9/2002
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov on Monday in Moscow announced the formation of a joint security council and agreed to unify their countries' positions which are in contrary to that of the US concerning the conflict in the Middle East.
The two foreign ministers reiterated their sayings that they consider the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as "a legitimate representative" for the Palestinian authority. The French minister said that "Arafat is an elected representative " and the Palestinian people can decide who should represent it. For his part, the Russan minister said "it is necessary to continue dialogue with the Israeli authorities as well as with the Palestinian authority." He added "we will keep our contacts with Arafat in his being a legitimate representative for the Palestinian authority."
De Villepin's visit to Moscow came just several days from the visit of the French President to the Russian Sotche resort on July 19 to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The two foreign ministers expressed their support to the idea of convening the international peace conference in the Middle East in order to revive the settlement process in the region, despite Washington's commitment to adhere to that conference.
Ivanov said "our stances greatly match in order to reach a settlement of that sort. It is necessary that the international community will exert intensive efforts including the organization of an international conference."
De Villepin said "the means to progress" towards a peaceful settlement is the international conference, which is the joint project for the four member committee which is composed of the US, the European Union, the UN and Russia. A conference which was not referred to by the US President George Bush in his speech made on June 24 concerning the Middle East. The French minister has just concluded a tour on the Middle East and is expected to head tomorrow for the US.
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