FM Peres meets with French President Chirac

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Jerusalem, 30 July 2002

Foreign Minister Peres met for over an hour yesterday (29 July) with French President Jacques Chirac. The Foreign Minister briefed Chirac on his discussions with the Palestinians and on Israel’s easing of restrictions in the territories. The French President told Peres that his country supports convening an international conference in the near future and asked him about Israel’s position. Peres answered that Israel supports convening a regional conference in the near future.

Minister Peres informed President Chirac of Hizbullah’s provocations on the northern border and noted that Syria and Iran were encouraging Hizbullah. He warned that the situation could easily deteriorate and requested that France include Hizbullah in its list of terrorist organizations. Chirac responded that it is not at all certain that doing so would benefit Israel, since Hizbullah is also a political-social organization that fulfills a social role in Lebanon, and taking steps against it would only strengthen the organization and weaken the Lebanese central government. The French President stated that his country is working on calming the situation in the north.

President Chirac complained about the anti-French campaign in the United States, accusing France of being anti-semitic. In response, Peres noted that the number of attacks against Jews in France has indeed decreased greatly, and praised the President for his statement that an attack on a synagogue is an attack on France.