While on his ongoing European tour, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert garnered exceptional French endorsement for Israel and its diplomatic policies.
During his meeting with Olmert in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy again voiced strong opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and pronounced Israel's security is a "red line" that must not be crossed.
Furthermore – without any usual equivocation -- Sarkozy came out against the Palestinians' demand that their refugees get a "right of return" to land now in Israel. According to Israeli officials, Sarkozy said it is unreasonable for Palestinians to expect statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip while wanting their compatriots resettled in the neighboring Jewish state.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Olmert said France and Israel share "identical" views on the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.
"I couldn't have heard on the Iranian issue things that could more fall in line with my expectations," Olmert said.
The talks were "excellent and extremely frank and show an impressive level of similar views, even identical views, on parts of the issues on the agenda," Olmert added.
According to the AFP report, Olmert was seeking strong support for efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment, which the Jewish state as well as the West believe is directed at developing an atomic bomb.
At the conclusion of the meetings between the two leaders, however, Olmert disclosed that they did not discuss military action to stop Iran's nuclear program – concentrating instead on the need for tougher sanctions.
"We focused on how to succeed on a wide range of actions that are not necessarily extremes," Olmert said, adding: "I believe we can succeed with them," referring to sanctions.
Meanwhile, according to AFP, French presidential spokesman David Martinon affirmed the positive assessment of the meeting -- the first between the two men since Sarkozy took office in May.
"Israel and France share the view that the Iranian nuclear program must be implemented with the greatest transparency and for peaceful ends," Martinon said.
"A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable for France and for Israel," he added.
Prior to the meeting in a speech, Sarkozy zeroed-in on Iran as the world's most dangerous problem and said a diplomatic push was needed to avoid "the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."
The Israeli leader is now in London for a meeting on Tuesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
According to the AFP report, France appears ready to replace Britain as Israel's closest European ally.
Israel has also welcomed the tough lines Sarkozy has adopted against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia.
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