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France Offers to Host Middle East Peace Talks


France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (L) gestures as he stands next to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad during a joint news conference after their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 2, 2011

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe (L) gestures as he stands next to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad during a joint news conference after their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 2, 2011

France is trying to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians before the Palestinians are expected to submit a petition to the United Nations in September for statehood recognition.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says his country wants to host peace talks in Paris before the end of July. He announced the proposal on Thursday after meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah.

Juppe said the current stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians is no longer tolerable. He said France is convinced that if nothing happens between now and September, the situation will be "very difficult" for everyone when the U.N. General Assembly meets.

The foreign minister is holding a series of meetings with both sides. On Wednesday, he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Rome. He plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Thursday.

Juppe says France wants new talks to begin with a focus on security and borders, based mostly on a U.S. proposal that uses lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War and land swaps as a starting point. Israel has objected to the plan.

The U.S.-led peace talks stalled last September after Israel's partial freeze on settlement construction expired. Palestinians oppose construction on land they want as part of a future state.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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