French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Reuters

France’s new Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, appears to be backtracking on plans to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ayrault rejected plans proposed by his predecessor, Laurent Fabius to “automatically” recognize a Palestinian state if a Paris initiative to host an international conference aiming to revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks fails.

"There is never anything automatic," Ayrault said. "France will present its initiative to its partners. It will be the first step, there is no pre-requisite." The Foreign Minister presented a far softer tone on the issue than his predecessor, limiting the scope of the French initiative.

"What we want, and that is our commitment, is to resume the negotiation process," he said.

Then French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, stirred Israeli anger in January by proposing such a conference and saying France would automatically "recognize a Palestinian state" if peace talks failed.

AFP contributed to this report

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