PM Sharon and President Chirac chat outside the Elysee Palace
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s remarks at the start of his meeting today (Wednesday, 27 July 2005) in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac and his host’s response:
“My friends, I was pleased to accept the French president’s invitation to visit France. I have left Israel during a not easy period, one in which Palestinian terrorism is continuing and in which there is an internal struggle in Israel over the Disengagement Plan. Despite all the difficulties, I decided to come in order to enhance bilateral relations, relations to which we ascribe great importance.
"I came in order to express my appreciation to the president of France, whom we view as one of the great leaders of the world. I would like to thank the president for his determined struggle against anti-Semitism and for his complete faith in the strengthening of bilateral relations. I would like to thank the president for inviting me at this time. I am certain that the visit will both strengthen bilateral relations and promote peace in the Middle East.”
President Jacques Chirac:
“This is an opportunity for me to say once again that the friendship between Israel and France must develop diplomatically, economically, and culturally.
"I would like to say that I am determined to fight the plague of terrorism and anti-Semitism on the eve of disengagement. France is determined to strengthen Israel and I say that it is important that the process move forward towards full development and assure full security for the people of Israel.
"It is clear that the Roadmap must give Israel peace and security and give the Palestinians the possibility of establishing a government and an independent state. My meeting today with the prime minister will also be an opportunity for us to discuss the situations in Lebanon and Iran.
"I wish the Prime Minister a fruitful visit."