French foreign minister snubs EU Trump talks

The French foreign minister is to miss an emergency meeting of his EU counterparts to discuss a response to Donald Trump's stunning US election win.

French foreign minister snubs EU Trump talks
Jean-Marc Ayrault will be "absent for agenda reasons". Photo: Louisa Goulimaki/AFP
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini summoned the ministers for dinner in Brussels after Republican Trump stormed to victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton on a platform which questioned America's
commitment to Europe.
But French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will be “absent for agenda reasons”, a French source told AFP, although his absence from a crucial meeting called by the EU's own foreign policy chief will also raise questions.
 British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson will also not attend the meeting, which is seen in some quarters as unnecessarily casting doubt on the result of an election in the country that has been closely allied to Europe for decades.
“We do not see the need for an additional meeting on Sunday because the US election timetable is long established,” a British Foreign Office spokesman said, adding that Johnson would attend a scheduled full meeting of ministers on Monday.
“An act of democracy has taken place, there is a transition period and we will work with the current and future administrations to ensure the best outcomes for Britain.”
Britain will be seeking the incoming Trump administration's backing as it negotiates its exit from the EU following June's Brexit referendum vote.    
Britain and France will instead be represented by their ambassadors to the EU.
Trump's victory has already been greeted coolly by a bloc shaken by Brexit and other crises, with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warning the billionaire president-elect he must get up to speed quickly on
transatlantic ties.
“Mr Trump, during his campaign, said that Belgium was a village somewhere in Europe,” Juncker said Friday. “I believe we'll have two years of wasted time while Mr Trump tours a world he doesn't know.”
Juncker also said that Trump had called NATO into question, which could have “harmful consequences” because it is the model of Europe's defence.    Trump's lack of solid foreign policy priorities has however kept everyone
One European diplomat said: “I have not had anyone teary on my shoulder — but everyone is saying 'what does it mean' and everyone is trying to interpret it.”
Trump has also sought to reach out to US allies since his election win, with phone calls to British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Francois Hollande among others.
But in a sign of the concern that Trump's victory has caused in Europe, outgoing US President Barack Obama is himself set to meet Merkel, May and Hollande in the wake of Trump's victory.
Trump's coolness on Europe and accusations of sexism and racism during the campaign have caused nervousness throughout a bloc dealing with the migration crisis, a stalled economy and a resurgent Russia on its eastern border.
Donald Tusk, the EU president and former Polish premier, warned this week that the events of 2016 were a “warning sign for all who believe in liberal democracy”, and urged Europe to “finally get our act together”.
But Trump's win is also being seen by some in the European Union as a chance to push ahead with projects of its own in a bid to build unity in the wake of the shock of Brexit.
On Monday the foreign ministers will discuss plans to boost defence cooperation — a move that Britain had long blocked — including a controversial proposal for a European military headquarters.


France warns Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as capital

France warned on Sunday of "serious consequences" if Donald Trump moves to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital as representatives from 70 countries met in Paris to try to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

France warns Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as capital
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians were represented at the conference, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as “futile”.
Opening the meeting, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the international community wanted to “forcefully reiterate that the two-state solution is the only solution possible” to the seven-decade-old conflict.
He also warned the US president-elect against relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a move to recognise the contested city as Israel's capital.
Ayrault said such a move, which Trump promised during campaigning, would have “extremely serious consequences” and predicted the incoming US leader would find it impossible to implement.
“When you are president of the United States, you cannot take such a stubborn and such a unilateral view on this issue. You have to try to create the conditions for peace,” he told France 3 TV.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation  welcomed the closing statement of Sunday's Middle East peace conference “which stressed the need to end the Israeli occupation,” PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat said.
But Israel criticised the conference as a “useless” event, saying it would distance prospects of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
“International conferences and UN resolutions only distance peace (prospects) since they encourage the Palestinians to continue to refuse direct talks with Israel,” the foreign ministry said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that the US had negotiated at the Paris Middle East peace conference to prevent Israel being treated unfairly.
 “We came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it,” he said. “We didn't soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides.”
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Kerry confirmed that he had spoken to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Paris meeting to reassure him.
Britain cited “reservations” over the conference and refused to sign a joint statement that called for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the British had “particular reservations” about the meeting in Paris taking place without Israeli or Palestinian representatives, “just days before the transition to a new American president”.

The PLO also called on conference host France “to immediately recognise the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital,” and urged all the countries that attended the meeting in Paris to “recognise

Palestine in line with their recognition of Israel”.
The conference's closing statement called on both sides to avoid “unilateral steps” and stressed that the basis for negotiations should be should be the 1967 borders, before Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Both Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas have been invited to meet with President Francois Hollande to discuss the conclusions of the Paris talks.
Abbas, who has backed the conference, is expected to travel to Paris in the coming weeks but Netanyahu has rejected the offer, French diplomats said.    
The Israeli premier on Sunday again heaped criticism on the conference, calling it “futile.”
“It was coordinated between the French and the Palestinians with the aim of imposing upon Israel conditions that are incompatible with our national needs,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting.