Sarkozy to meet Qatari PM


The talks follow an earlier meeting this month between the two men on January 14, when Sarkozy made a three-nation tour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.


Sarkozys office praised "the excellence of relations" between the two nations and the re-launching of the "geo-strategic partnership" after the Gulf visit.


The meeting Wednesday will be an opportunity to discuss the major regional issues on which France and Qatar "share a great convergence of views," according to officials.


"Qatar is a strong ally for France and a partner for peace in the region," Sarkozys office said in a statement.


The talks between the two men follow closely on the heels of a meeting between the French leader and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who arrives in Paris Wednesday for talks with his French counterpart and with the French Foreign Minister.


Barak meets Sarkozy only one hour before the meeting with Sheikh Hamad, according to the French leaders schedule.


Separately, Palestinian sources said that a number of NGOs were planning to demonstrate close to the Elysee Palace where Barak and Sarkozy are meeting.


The protests are against Israeli treatment of the Palestinian population of Gaza, which has suffered violent attacks and is now under and on and off blockade, leaving food and energy shortages and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.


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