Posted by: sean | June 14, 2007

Paris conference on Lebanon

Sarkozy and Kouchner have called for a conference outside of Paris to try to broker a solution to the political impasse here. The Jerusalem Post has this to say about Kouchner’s decision to invite Hezbollah:

The view in Jerusalem is that Sarkozy wants to bring about a gradual thaw in the ties, in order to play the “honest broker” and stabilize Lebanon. The conference in Paris, according to this assessment, is part of this effort.

The invitation to Hizbullah largely puts an end to hopes articulated in Jerusalem after Sarkozy’s election victory that he might be persuaded to place Hizbullah on Europe’s list of terrorist organizations, a position that was opposed by Chirac.

“The objective is to restore confidence between parties. We have the opportunity to end the conflict, and not talking to them [Hizbullah] would mean neglecting the Lebanese political situation, where Hizbullah is an important component,” the French Foreign Ministry official said. The official also said that even though the “guest list” had yet to be finalized, Hizbullah would definitely be there and involved in the negotiations.

Asked if the France was concerned about international criticism for inviting Hizbullah, which Israel, the US and a number of other countries consider a terrorist organization, the official said the priority was Lebanon’s stability, not France’s image.

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