Chirac Rejects FM's Request to Add Hezbollah to EU Terror List

Haaretz Service
Aluf Benn The Associated Press
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Haaretz Service
Aluf Benn The Associated Press

French President Jacques Chirac on Monday rebuffed Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's request to add the militant Hezbollah organization to the European Union's list of terror organizations.

During a meeting with Shalom on Monday afternoon, Chirac said France's efforts in the coming weeks will be focused primarily on the democratic process in Lebanon and the upcoming elections to be held in two months.

Shalom made the request during a meeting with his French counterpart Michel Barnier earlier this month.

The EU will hold an initial discussion on the Israeli request, which is based on the danger posed by Hezbollah to new Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Both Israeli and Palestinian sources have accused the Hezbollah of trying to organize Palestinian attacks on Israelis, in order to torpedo the cease-fire understandings reached between Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at Sharm el-Sheikh last week.

France has played the primary role in blocking the addition of the Hezbollah to the list to date.

Shalom asks France to use its influence in Arab world to promote warmer Arab-Israeli ties Shalom asked France to use its influence in the Arab world to help promote better relations between Israel and Persian Gulf and North African nations.

Shalom, speaking after a meeting with President Jacques Chirac, said France could also play "a key role" in isolating groups set on disrupting peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

"I asked the assistance of President Chirac to help us to have better relations with North African countries and the Gulf states," Shalom said, "and bring his influence among those countries in order to have better understanding between Israel [and those nations]."

Shalom also said he was "very encouraged" by the French government's recent efforts to crack down on anti-Semitism, and its "determination" to curb the activities of right-wing extremists.

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