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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Israeli, French Foreign Ministers Hold Press Conference

Aired May 25, 2003 - 10:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier this morning the Israel cabinet agreed to the U.S.-backed road map to peace and now from Jerusalem, a response from the Israeli government. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The ups and downs and confrontations and clashes that happen sometimes have not basically undermined the quality of these relationships. Relationships over cultural and quality type as this shouldn't ever lead to breakdown in communication. Quite on the contrary, friends can speak to each other very frankly and they can agree to differ.

I'm sorry.

Would you like the piece of paper that I was speaking from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The interpreter into the French is now giving a French version of the address on the speaking notes from Mr. Shalom. Very happy to greet the French foreign minister, with whom I've had some discussions in the framework of his visit to the Middle East.

Israel and France have very close ties. They've had a somewhat checkered history in a very unique fashion. In the past they've been very close, but also there have been periods of marked cooling off and disappointments. The major advantage and interest -- can I leave it there? I won't go any further.

The friendship between the two countries is very, very deep, despite, withstanding the differences which have sometimes come to a fore. This is a very profound friendship because it's based on cooperation and above all on frank discussions. But everything is based on the same basic attitudes to democracy, liberties, freedoms and human rights. And therefore, despite the ups and downs and sometimes even the confrontations that have taken place between these two countries, the very basis of our relationship, it seems to us, has not suffered.

And this is precisely, says Mr. Shalom, where I stopped.

WHITFIELD: You are hearing from the French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, as well as the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, both celebrating a 12-to-7 vote from the Israel cabinet in favor of the U.S.-backed road map to peace plan, a three-part, three- stage plan, a three-year plan that will eventually lead to a Palestinian independent state.

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