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France wants Mideast talks in 1 month with no preconditions, final peace deal in a year
UNITED NATIONS (AP) ' French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a one-year timetable Wednesday for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace accord, part of a concerted push with the United States for the Palestinian leaders to abandon an application for U.N. membership.
Sarkozy spoke at the General Assembly shortly after President Barack Obama warned their could be no "shortcut" to peace and that negotiations, not U.N. declarations, were essential to a lasting peace.
While Obama stopped short of calling directly calling on the Palestinians to drop their bid for full membership ' an effort the U.S. has vowed to veto in the Security Council ' Sarkozy sounded a more compromising tone and urged each side, and the international community, to approach the deadlocked process with new ideas and tactics.
"Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters and let us being negotiations and adopt a precise and ambitious timetable," Sarkozy told the leaders and officials gathered at the U.N. "Sixty years without moving one centimeter forward, doesn't that suggest that we should change the method and the scheduling here?"
"Let's have one month to resume discussions, six months to find agreement on borders and security, one year to reach a definitive agreement," he said.
A senior European Union official said the proposal laid out by Sarkozy matched one by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during a meeting with EU foreign ministers on Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
Abbas' push for full membership, which he has said would be submitted on Friday, has dominated this year's U.N. meeting, pushing the U.S. and Israel against a wall of international sympathy for Palestinians. While the full membership bid would meet with a certain U.S. veto in the Security Council, assuming the Palestinians muster enough votes to have it approved, they have succeeded in bringing the issue again to the forefront of the world's political discussions after years of failed negotiations, bickering and sporadic outbreaks of violence.
Sarkozy said that by setting preconditions, "we doom ourselves to failure. ... There must be no preconditions."