PM Looks Forward to First Tete-a-tete With Sarkozy and Brown

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will discuss regional and bilateral issues with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris today and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London tomorrow. Olmert said his trip was largely intended to hold a first formal meeting with his two counterparts.

"I know them both and have cooperated with them before," Olmert said. "We spoke by phone a few times, but a meeting in person was also called for."

Olmert will discuss the efforts to block Iran's nuclear program, advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and bilateral issues.

He said that France, the United States and Britain are leading the effort "to force the suspension of the Iranians' uranium enrichment program."

Olmert said he will discuss Israel's preparations for talks with the Palestinian Authority, adding: "The meeting at Annapolis is not meant to propose or produce solutions, but rather to bolster a negotiations process that should lead to a solution of two states living side by side in peace and security."

Referring to his three-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last Thursday, Olmert said it dealt with an array of matters that cannot be made public.

Olmert praised Putin's statement that he is committed to Israel's security, saying that declarations aside, Russia has maintained the status quo on the Iranian issue "despite expectations that something would change" - a reference to Russia possibly supplying nuclear fuel for the reactor in Bushehr.