Israel's Netanyahu to meet Hollande in Paris

AFP , Monday 22 Oct 2012

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to meet the French President Francois Hollande with no precise date given

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel next week to France for his first meeting with President Francois Hollande since he came to power in May, a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

It said that during the visit, for which no precise date was given, Netanyahu would attend a memorial at the Jewish school in Toulouse where three children and a French-Israeli teacher were killed on March 19 by Mohamed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent.

The visit, which the statement said is at the invitation of the Elysee Palace, comes at a time of mounting concern for the Jewish community in France about a wave of anti-Semitic incidents. In a telephone call last month, Hollande urged Netanyahu to favour diplomacy on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Israel and Western powers accuse Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb, charges which Iranian leaders deny, saying their nuclear energy programme is purely for civilian purposes. Israel, the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, nuclear power, has refused to rule out a military strike to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear arms capability.

Netanyahu has repeatedly driven home the need to draw a "clear red line" for Iran and make clear the consequences of crossing it, in what was widely interpreted as a criticism of Washington's argument that there is still time for sanctions and diplomacy to work. Since taking office Hollande has twice met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects, after more than two years of deadlock.

Short link: