France proposes Mideast peace talks

France will move ahead with its proposal to bring Palestinians and Israelis together at a peace conference later this summer in Paris despite U.S. reservations, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said June 7.

Juppe said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “responded positively” to the initiative and “the Israeli government is continuing to study the proposal.” He said he expected a response from Israel soon.

Juppe said he discussed the proposal with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and that the Americans are hesitant about plans for a large political conference without prior agreement of the two parties on the framework for the meeting.

Juppe said that a resumption of negotiations is the only way to head off a Palestinian bid to secure recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the U.N. General Assembly in September. — ap