French Pres. opens Mideast peace conf., warns against failure

French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande

PARIS, June 3 (KUNA) — French President Francois Hollande on Friday warned that the failure of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis would serve “extremists.” Hollande spoke at the opening of a French-led conference that aims to revive the Mideast peace process, in Paris. Officials from the Middle East Quartet, the UN, Arab League and about 20 states are attending.
The president added that the huge changes that have been taking place in the Middle East region have to be considered, to avoid extremists’ exploitation of the vacuum if the peace process fails.
The “brave choice of peace” is up to the Israelis and the Palestinians, who are absent from the Paris conference, but the French initiative could help provide safeguards for a permanent and stable agreement.
The threats and priorities have changed. The changes make it even more urgent to find a solution to the conflict, and this regional upheaval creates new obligations for peace, he said.
Earlier on Friday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said direct negotiations between both sides did not work.
“Currently everything is blocked,” he told France Info radio.
“We don’t want to act in the place of the Israelis and Palestinians but we want to help them,” he said.
US State Secretary John Kerry and High Representative, Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby are among many others are attending, together with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UK, Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Senegal, Sweden and Switzerland. (end) mmb.msa