In Lyon, Peres meets survivors and protesters
The third day of President Shimon Peres' state visit to France was devoted to the city of Lyon. According to French rules of ceremony, a state visit must include a city beside the capital. Peres chose Lyon. He met with Holocaust survivors and representatives of the resistance movements, and wrote in the visitors book of the French Resistance museum: "The horrors of the Nazis will echo forever."
Some 30 to 40 protesters gathered outside the museum to demonstrate against the visit. According to Army Radio, the protesters, many of whom were Palestinians, held signs reading 'Erase Israel' and 'Israel is a criminal.' The police moved in quickly to quell the protest; demonstrators who refused to leave were dragged away.
Later, Peres inaugurated a Jewish cultural center with the chief rabbi of Lyon, the city's imam and the head of Lyon's church, and praised the "marvelous coexistence in the city."
Peres ended the day at a special event in his honor hosted by the Weizmann Institute at Lyon's opera house.
Today Peres will open the International Book Fair in Paris. Israel was invited to be a guest of honor, because of the country's 60th anniversary. The fair will open under heavy security.
Peres' military secretary, Brigadier General Shimon Hefetz, said yesterday that Israeli and French security industries would be working together on a 500-million-euro deal to manufacture drones. Israel Aircraft Industries will be the chief contractor on the project, in cooperation with Elbit Systems, El-Op Industries and Elisra Electronic Systems. On the French side are Dassault Aviation and Thales Research and Technology, whose representatives visited Israel recently and learned about the technological achievements of Israel's drones.
France is also a partner in the production of a European drone, together with Germany, and it is believed that the Israeli-French collaboration will open doors for Israel in the European drone development project.
Israeli-French cooperation was also a subject of discussion between Peres and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.
In a conversation with Haaretz, Peres said the friendship between Israel and France "had no parallel" in human history. He said he did not see his visit as the "closing of a circle," but as a chance to say thank you for the past, and to open a new chapter of cooperation in facing the challenges of the present and future - first and foremost, Iran's nuclear program and terrorism.
Asked whether his comment on the eve of his visit, that Israel would not act alone against the Iranian threat, had been coordinated with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he replied: "If we act alone, we'll remain alone. [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is the whole world's problem; it should not be reduced to Israel's [problem]. There is no issue here of coordinating statements, but of coordinating policy."
On Tuesday, a state dinner was held for Peres in which some thought that Sarkozy's wife, singer-model Carla Bruni, stole the show when she displayed her "pregnant belly."