Sarkozy says will visit Israel this spring for state's 60th anniversary
By The Associated Press
PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would visit Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of country's establishment.
The trip will be his first visit to Israel since taking office last May.
Sarkozy did not give an exact date for his trip, but Israel traditionally celebrates the anniversary of its founding in May.
Speaking before one of France's leading Jewish organizations, the French leader said he would address the Knesset during the visit - which he said came in response to an invitation by President Shimon Peres, who visited Paris last March.
Sarkozy, who is seen as closer to Israel than his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, reiterated his pledges to stand by Israel.
France will always be at Israel's side, he told the audience of about 1,000 people at an annual event hosted by the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations in France, or CRIF.
Sarkozy also said he believed a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians is possible this year - but called both sides to make concessions.
He called Israeli settlements West Bank an obstacle to peace and urged the release of some Palestinian prisoners. He said the Palestinians need to continue to crack down on terrorism and reform their security services.