Steven Erlanger
The New York Times
November 11, 2009 - 1:00am

PARIS — After meeting for 90 minutes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France announced in a joint statement on Wednesday evening that they had agreed to work toward “immediately reviving the peace process” in the Middle East and discussed international efforts to stop Iran from enriching uranium.

Mr. Sarkozy, a strong supporter of Israel who has sharply criticized Iran’s nuclear program, has regularly demanded that Israel freeze all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, a step the Palestinians now say is their requirement for renewing talks on a final peace settlement.

Mr. Netanyahu has offered Washington and the Palestinians a partial and temporary halt to settlement construction, except in Jerusalem.

Washington has reacted inconsistently, while Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has recently said he will not run again for the presidency.

In the joint statement issued by Mr. Sarkozy’s office, the French and Israeli leaders agreed “to use all efforts” to restart the peace process and said they would remain in close contact. They did not speak to reporters.

Iran was a major topic of the talks, but little was revealed. France has insisted that Iran stop all nuclear enrichment as demanded by United Nations Security Council resolutions and has been skeptical of a possible deal with Iran to remove most of its lightly enriched uranium and turn it into fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran. Iran has resisted the deal, arguing instead that it will give up the enriched uranium only after new fuel, made from other sources, is delivered.

France is eager to show progress on Iran to prevent Israel from attacking the country in an attempt to set back its nuclear program.


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