News

    Sarkozy Leads Charge in Reinvigorating Stalled Peace Talks

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing the stalled Middle East peace process this week, holding talks with Middle East leaders including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. 13 Nov 2009
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. 13 Nov 2009

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Lisa Bryant

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing the stalled Middle East peace process this week, holding talks with Middle East leaders including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.  But Mr. Assad, for one, has dismissed the idea of direct talks with Israel for the moment.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the French news agency, AFP, Friday he was not willing to hold direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling instead for lower level Turkish mediation.  Mr. al-Assad was reported to have made the comments in Paris following talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and an invitation for dialogue from the Israeli prime minister.

    Earlier, Mr. al-Assad told the French daily Le Figaro that the Obama administration needed to develop a plan of action before talks with Israel could take place.

    The discussions between French and Syrian leaders caps a flurry of diplomatic activity by the French president, who has been trying to nudge the two sides to resume long stalled peace negotiations.  Mr. Sarkozy met with Mr. Netanyahu in Paris on Wednesday and on Thursday spoke by telephone with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who says he does not want to run for another term.

    The French presidency has issued statements emphasizing the need to rekindle the Middle East peace process on all fronts, including the Syrian one.  Relations between France and Syria have been warming lately, and the two leaders traded visits last year.

    In an interview earlier this week on French radio, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said France - and the European Union - had a role to play in moving the stalled peace process forward.

    Kouchner said it was important to persuade Mr. Abbas to continue as Palestinian president. He said France had good ties with the Palestinians and Israelis and both France and Europe had a position that counted in the region. He said he would be traveling to the Middle East shortly.

    Middle East expert Robin Lowe believes Mr. Sarkozy is pushing the peace process now because other efforts, including by Washington, appear to be floundering. But Lowe, an analyst at London policy institute Chatham House, is not certain that French mediation will make much difference.

    "The French position or the French presence is problematic in the Palestinian context," said Lowe. "The Israelis are not normally minded to listen to any great extent to the French and as everybody is aware, ultimately the only player with any real heavy clout is the United States. I would be very surprised if any French move was separate from the European Union. I'm sure it's been coordinated with them. But ultimately, there's a limited amount they can achieve."

    Still, France has historic ties in the Middle East. France also has Western Europe's largest populations of Jews and Muslims. Which means that what happens in the Middle East matters in France.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora