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Abdullah, Kouchner hold talks on hot issues in Mideast
Posted on19/07/2007 08:33:00

Paris - UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks yesterday with his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, on ways of enhancing bilateral relations and on the latest developments in the region.
During the talks which took place at the French Foreign Ministry, Sheikh Abdullah praised the strong bonds linking the UAE and France, describing them as ''close, strong and strategic in political, security, cultural and economic domains." ''I have agreed with the French Foreign Minister to pursue consultations and I have invited him to visit the UAE,''
Sheikh Abdullah said. Sheikh Abdullah also expressed his appreciation of France's initiative to bring the disputing factions in Lebanon back to the conference table. Praising the policy adopted by France towards the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, Sheikh Abdullah also praised the decision by the Sudanese Government to accept a hybrid peace force in the region. Sheikh Abdullah said that the meeting with Kouchner had also reviewed the situation in Iraq. The two ministers had both voiced concern over the repercussions of the continued violence in Iraq and had agreed on the need to maintain security and stability in the Arab country, he said.
The Middle East peace process, Sheikh Abdullah added, also figured prominently in the talks. He noted the call by US President George W. Bush for the convening of an international conference on peace in the Middle East. The UAE top diplomat also stressed the importance of reviving the Middle East peace process in the light of the Arab peace initiative and expressed the support of the UAE for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for the government of Salam Fiyadh.
His talks with the French Minister, he added, had also looked at the Iran 'nuclear file' and the current situation in Afghanistan, while the UAE Minister also expressed his praise for the policy currently being adopted by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
The French Minister told the Emirates News Agency, WAM, that he had been pleased with the results of the meeting. "There is wonderful harmony between the UAE and France and both countries are pursuing sincere efforts to boost bilateral cooperation in all fields," he said. In a reference to the issue of the three Gulf islands of Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, Kouchner said: "France will maintain its support for the UAE stance which underlines the importance of international arbitration on these three islands."
During his talks with Sheikh Abdullah, he said, "We have discussed the most important issues with emphasis on the peace process and the situation in Iraq and Lebanon." Sheikh Abdullah, the French Minister said, had appreciated France''s efforts to help Lebanese factions to resume dialogue among themselves. ''We will try to do that with the Palestinians ...we concur on the need for extending assistance to the government of Salam Fiyadh and the Palestinian National Authority,'' Kouchner said.
Commenting on the US President's recent call for holding an international peace conference in the Middle East, he said that he had made a similar call in a recent address he had made which had been endorsed by foreign ministers of 10 Mediterranean countries. ''There is a real opportunity now and it should be seized to push the peace process forward especially there are Palestinians, led by President Abbas, (who) want peace and Israelis also seek peace, namely Ehud Barak in the government of Ehud Olmert."
''We should all work together now .....we should not let this opportunity get away from our hands .......the beam of hope is out there,'' he concluded. The meeting was attended by UAE Ambassador to France Saif Sultan Al Arian and a number of top aides to the French Foreign Minister. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)



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