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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Royal accused of Mid-East 'gaffe'

BBC News
Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 00:59 GMT

Royal accused of Mid-East 'gaffe'
By Alasdair Sandford
BBC News, Paris

French presidential candidate Segolene Royal (l) shakes hands
with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Political
opponents of French socialist presidential candidate, Segolene
Royal, have accused her of making serious errors during a Middle
East trip.

Opponents from the ruling centre-right party have criticised her
stance towards Hezbollah.

This was her first official overseas trip since winning her
party's nomination for the election last month.

On Monday she was in Israel, meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
and earlier Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Although she has been given a warm reception fit for a
head-of-state in waiting, at home, her visit has become mired in
pre-election controversy.

During a joint news conference in Beirut, a Hezbollah MP compared
Israel's policy towards Lebanon with Nazism.

Ms Royal did not respond, saying later that her interpreter had
not used the word - but had she heard it, she would have
condemned it as abominable.

"French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy described her
attitude as "simplistic""

Profile: Segolene Royal

During the meeting she also said she shared many of the Hezbollah
politician's critical views on the US.

Opponents from the governing UMP party and Jewish organisations
say the socialist presidential candidate is guilty of a naive,
irresponsible attitude to Middle Eastern affairs, damaging to France.

The French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy described her
attitude as simplistic.

Segolene Royal's campaign team pointed out there had been no
reaction from Israel, saying the attacks from home smacked of

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