Sarkozy says Palestinian state vital to Mideast peace
Creating their own state is a "legitimate right" for Palestinians and necessary for Middle East peace and Israeli security, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has told the UAE state news agency WAM.
"No one would think seriously about peace in the Middle East without giving the Palestinians a state they have been persevering for years. It is their legitimate right," he said ahead of a formal visit to the United Arab Emirates.
"The best guarantee for security of Israel is setting up an independent, democratic, modern and viable Palestinian state."
Sarkozy said that the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank should stop as it is an obstacle to peace, adding that he would not compromise Israel's right to live in peace.
"He who knows me is aware I'm a true friend of Israel and will not compromise the right of Israel to live in peace and security," he told WAM.
Sarkozy's comments come ahead of an expected meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 3 in Paris, the first such encounter since the right-winger became Israeli premier in March.
France last week denounced Netanyahu's statement that Jerusalem would remain Israel's undivided capital for ever.
The French president will arrive in the oil-rich Gulf state of the UAE later on Monday for an official visit during which he will inaugurate France's first permanent military base in the Middle East.