Sarkozy to seek out 'paths to peace' in Gaza

In his televised New Year's message from the Elysée Palace in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he will fly to the Middle East on Monday in a bid to find a path toward peace between Israel and the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy will fly to the Middle East on Monday in a bid to "find a path toward peace" between warring Israel and the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers, he said in a televised New Year message.

"France will continue to be active in Africa, in Asia and of course in the Middle East where I will go as of Monday, because it is France's duty to look everywhere for the roadmap towards peace, as it is its duty to act on behalf of human rights," Sarkozy said Wednesday.

The French president, who is due to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday, will also meet for talks with Middle Eastern leaders in Egypt, the West Bank, Israel, Syria and Lebanon, the French presidency announced Wednesday night.

Hamas vowed on Wednesday to fight "until the last breath" if Israel makes good on threats to send ground troops into Gaza after rejecting calls for a truce and pressing on with its air assault.

"Israel will embark on a veritable adventure if it decides to invade Gaza. We have prepared surprises for them," senior official Mushir al-Masri vowed.

Despite international appeals for the bloodshed to end, Israel's security cabinet rejected French-brokered proposals for a ceasefire.

"The cabinet decided to continue with the military operation," a senior government official told AFP earlier on Wednesday.


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