French Socialist leader Segolene Royal calls on PM Olmert and defense minister Peretz Monday

She travels to Gaza Strip to meet Mahmoud Abbas Sunday and calls on Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and FM Tzipi Livni. Royal said she will look at proposals “and if they’re from democratically elected (Hamas) officials, I’ll see.”
The French presidential election campaign kicked off over the Middle East with Socialist candidate Royal’s tour starting in Beirut Thursday.
Guest of anti-Syrian government leaders, she decided against advice to remain in the Lebanese capital ahead of Friday’s massive anti-government demonstration. After a half-hour meeting, Royal praised PM Fouad Siniora as “a great leader”. Her rival, the conservative French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, launched his campaign for April 2007 election by accusing Royal of passivity on key international issues, such as Iran, Darfur, Israel’s security “which is not negotiable,” and a homeland for the Palestinians.
President Jacque Chirac’s policies have been consistently pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian. Tensions run high between France and Israel in recent weeks over Israeli reconnaissance flights in southern Lebanon to monitor the smuggling of arms to Hizballah from Syria in the absence of the UN force’s intercession.
debkafile: The Socialist candidate appears to offer no real change from the Chirac stance at this point in her campaign. After meeting Friday in southern Lebanon with French soldiers of UNIFIL, Royal said she will ask Israeli leaders to “stop” flying over the region. She has also supported the resumption of financial to the Palestinian Hamas government and a greater European role in Middle East peacemaking.
From Lebanon, Royal moves on to Jordan. Sunday she visits Ramallah and Jerusalem, where she is due to meet prime minister Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
According to the latest poll, the Socialist leader is 13 points ahead of Sarcozy.

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