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Hollande weighs in on Iran, Palestinians

French President Francois Hollande has hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris, where the two leaders discussed a nuclear-armed Iran and stalled peace talks with Palestinians.

Hollande did not mince words on Wednesday regarding his stance on Iran's nuclear program during a joint press conference with Netanyahu.

"[Iran's pursuing nuclear arms] is a threat which cannot be accepted by France," Hollande said. "We have voted for many sanctions and are ready to vote others as long as necessary."

Netanyahu backed what he called an "extremely important position" by Hollande. The prime minister further stated that Iran is not popular in the Arab world and that if Israel were to issue a first strike attack, "five minutes later, contrary to what skeptics think, I believe there will be a great feeling of relief throughout the region."

Despite accusations to the contrary, Iran maintains that its nuclear facilities are for energy purposes.

France favors two-state solution

Regarding the stalemate in peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, Hollande said he hopes negotiations will resume soon.

"France wants the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians without conditions and with the same goal," Hollande said of the two-state solution. "A state of Israel where security is guaranteed and a Palestinian state which must be allowed to live."

Hollande also cautioned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas against using the United Nations to force the issue unilaterally by pursing the status of "nonmember observer state."

Peace talks in the Middle East have been on hold for over two years as Israel continues to build new settlements in the area. Palestinians have called for a stop to the expansion before talks can resume

On Thursday, Hollande and Netanyahu are scheduled to travel together to the French town of Toulouse and attend a memorial for three children and a rabbi killed by an Islamist gunman in March.

mz/mkg (dpa, AFP, Reuters)