Last updated: 11 October, 2011

Abbas and Sarkozy to meet in Paris Friday

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet in Paris on Friday to discuss the peace process with Israel, Sarkozy’s office said.

“The talk will focus on the relaunch of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and French efforts in that direction within the framework of proposals made by the president, notably at the United Nations General Assembly on September 21,” said his office.

Palestinian foreign minister Ryad al-Maliki said in Bogota on Monday that Abbas would depart for France after meeting Tuesday with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on the request for UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state.

Both Colombia and France are on the 15-member council.

“We are going to have a meeting with the French president Sarkozy on the same subject, because France is also a permanent member of the Security Council,” Maliki told AFP on Monday.

Earlier, Abbas said he was willing to restart peace negotiations with Israel “at any moment”.

“We are in favour of peaceful negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel,” Abbas said in Bogota, where he was on a Latin American tour to rally support for UN recognition.

“We are at any moment willing to return to the negotiating table if Israel is of the same mind,” he said, during an event where he was declared an honorary citizen of Bogota by the city’s mayor.

The Middle East Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — has called for a resumption of negotiations.

Israel on Sunday accepted with reservations a plan proposed by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, while the Palestinians have said there will be no negotiations until Israel freezes settlement — a demand they say is written into the Quartet proposal.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez meanwhile said Abbas would visit Caracas on Tuesday. The leftist Chavez has long championed the Palestinian cause and has hosted Abbas on previous occasions.