France, Egypt urge Middle East accord in 2010

Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:10am GMT

By Sophie Hardach

PARIS (Reuters) - France and Egypt urged Israel and the Palestinians on Monday to reach a peace agreement in 2010, and Egypt's foreign minister said he remained hopeful this could be achieved.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit met French leaders in Paris to discuss prospects for peace in the Middle East and to resolve a controversy over ancient Egyptian murals.

"They should agree on a limited time frame," Aboul Gheit told Reuters on a possible restart of peace talks that have been suspended for a year. "There should be guarantees that we would not negotiate for ever, maybe involving the U.N. Security Council, maybe involving the Quartet."

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators comprises the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

"(The two presidents) saw the need for a political perspective so that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians restart and an agreement is reached in 2010," French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement.

Both leaders are worried about the current impasse, the statement said.

"I am still hopeful that the U.S. will offer the parties a certain American vision, I am hopeful that the Quartet will participate ..." Aboul Gheit said.

U.S. President Barack Obama wanted to restart the peace process in his first year in office, but this looks unlikely.   Continued...

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