September 20, 2011 / 5:28 PM / 8 years ago

Sarkozy: Arab Spring at risk if no Mideast deal

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 20 Reuters - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday called on all parties to break the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to avoid it poisoning Arab countries’ evolution to democracy.

Speaking at a “Friends of Libya” conference at the United Nations General Assembly, Sarkozy said that with Arab states finally moving towards freedom, the world had to be “careful that 60-year-old conflicts did not poison the construction of democracy.”

Sarkozy met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday to hear his strategy after the Palestinian Authority chief announced his intention to apply for full statehood at the U.N. Security Council on Friday.

Sarkozy declined to comment after the meeting.

“Not only does the Arab street gives us an obligation to act, but would condemn all forms of immobility,” Sarkozy said in his speech.

According to officials close to the French president, Sarkozy will focus primarily on the Palestinian-Israeli question at his opening speech at the U.N. on Wednesday.

The French president plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Reporting by John Irish, editing by Will Dunham

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