Clinton skeptical about French-proposed Middle East conference

A peace conference aimed at bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiating table, which has been proposed by France, is unlikely to be “productive,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

France has proposed hosting a peace conference aimed at persuading the Palestinians to abandon their plans to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize an independent state in September.

During a news conference with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Monday, Clinton said the United States “strongly” supports a return to negotiations, but it is unlikely to be achieved as neither the Israelis, not the Palestinians have expressed their willingness to negotiate.

“There is no agreement that the parties will resume negotiations and I think the idea of any gathering, a conference or a meeting, has to be linked to a willingness by the parties to resume negotiating,” she said.

Following France’s proposal, Israel said it would study it, while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he was ready to attend a peace conference if Israel accepted negotiations based on the 1967 borders. The proposal was put forward by U.S. President Barack Obama last month, but has been rejected by Tel Aviv.

Juppe argued that some steps should be made to head off a Palestinian bid to win UN recognition of statehood.

“We have the feeling that if nothing happens before September, the situation will be very difficult for everybody when the General Assembly will discuss a resolution about the Palestinian state,” he said.

In late May, Abbas reiterated his determination to apply to the United Nations for the recognition of Palestinian statehood in September if there is no progress in peace talks with Israel.

WASHINGTON, June 7 (RIA Novosti) 

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