Israel, France to Meet Annually to Mull Common Strategic Issues

Israel and France agreed yesterday to hold an annual strategic dialogue that will focus on diplomatic, security and economic issues, to be led by the directors general of the two foreign ministries. The agreement follows yesterday's meeting between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is visiting the French capital, and her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.

Livni also met President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had a message of friendship for Israel. The foreign minister discussed with the new French president the "danger and chances" created by the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Sarkozy was interested to learn Israel's views on furthering the peace process. Livni's visit to Paris is a preamble to a trip to France and Britain that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is due to make in a few weeks to meet the new leadership in those countries.