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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

France won't go to Iraq, but wants to go to Gaza

French foreign minister on 'Mideast tour' that doesn't include Israel
AFP: In Cairo, [French Foreign Minister Michel] Barnier said France, and Europe as a whole, was ready to back an Egyptian initiative to guarantee security in the Gaza Strip after an expected Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory.

"We have stated our availability to take part, at the appropriate moment, including through an international presence whose format remains to be determined", he told a news conference, flanked by his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Maher.

Egypt has offered to send up to 200 personnel to the Gaza Strip to train a 30,000-strong police force to maintain security in the territory during and after next year's promised Israeli pullout.

Jordan has said it would be willing to train Palestinian security personnel but not to deploy troops in the Israeli-occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip.

Barnier also met Egypt's intelligence chief and pointman on the Middle East, General Omar Suleiman, as well as Arab League chief Amr Mussa.

He is expected to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 29-30 and visit Israel at a unspecified date.
Terrorists oppose Egypt-Jordan-France plan

Also according to the AFP, "Ten radical Palestinian factions" united in opposition to any security role for Arab countries in the West Bank and Gaza.

The statement on the "Islamist movement" Hamas's website said,
"Our steadfast people expects from our Arab brothers the logic of support and not the logic of security which cannot be acceptable. . . . It would suggest "the Palestinian people are the problem rather than the unfair occupation of our land."
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) were among the signatories.