Wednesday, March 12, 2008


While the French state welcomed President Shimon Peres in official ceremonies of unprecedented pomp, some Frenchmen were less enthusiastic: Dozens of people in Lyon protested against Peres's tour of the city on Wednesday, holding signs with the slogans "Eliminate Israel" and "Israel is unlawful."

French security forces arrived on the scene and forcibly dispersed the crowd, the report said.

The protest led by Palestinian demonstrators, outside Le musée de la resistance was a dissonant note in a lengthy visit during which Peres was mostly warmly welcomed.

Peres met with President Nicholas Sarkozy, with Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and with Prime Minister François Fillon. Sarkozy reiterated to Peres his commitment to combating Islamic terrorism and his opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Fillon told Peres that Israel's security was at the center of the French government's concerns. "France sees eye to eye with Israel on the Iranian nuclear threat and steadfastly opposes Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons," Fillon told Peres.

France Eyes New Israeli Ties - Jamey Keaten
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to rebuild France's frayed ties with Israel and hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres in Paris this week. "Those who call in a scandalous, scandalous way for the destruction of Israel will always find France in front of them to block their route," said Sarkozy. Paris lined the Champs-Elysees with French and Israeli flags - an image not lost on many French Jews. Sarkozy said at a state dinner that Israel "is not alone" in its concerns about Iran's nuclear program, which will require "a reaction of great firmness."

Sarkozy also said France, during its presidency of the EU later this year, will monitor the planning for the UN anti-racism conference scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2009. He said he "will not stand" for a possible replay of "intolerable deviations" that could mar the so-called Durban II conference. (AP)

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