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Report by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Trip to Paris, April 21-24, 2014

April 28, 2014

Representing The Carter Center and The Elders, I traveled to Paris to discuss our programs with the French foreign minister, to enhance involvement of French students in climate change (global warming), to promote Middle East peace, and to publicize my latest book about the abuse of women and girls.

Meeting with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius:
After similar sessions in Washington and London, we outlined the work of The Elders and then discussed mutual interests with reference to the Central African Republic, climate change, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Egypt, United Nations reform, the Ukraine, and Iran.

Global Warming:
Fellow Elder Hina Jilani and I participated in a 90-minute discussion of all aspects of climate change with about 450 students of Sciences Po University, primarily answering their questions. This was especially important and timely because the major international conference on the subject will be held in Paris in November and December, 2015, following preparatory sessions in New York and Lima, Peru, later this year. The session was widely publicized in Europe and the United States. Our primary purpose was to encourage young people to become more actively involved.

Middle East peace:
The next day we met with key Palestinian leaders and representatives from Europe, international organizations, various nongovernmental organizations, and other experts on the region. This was the sixth session sponsored by The Carter Center and The Elders to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians and also reconciliation among major Palestinian factions, which is a necessary prerequisite to implementing any peace agreement. Our previous meeting was in London nine months ago, devoted to encouraging the Palestinians to participate in the peace talks orchestrated by Secretary John Kerry.

We found the Palestinians to be quite discouraged about the prospect of success or progress. They stated that during the previous nine months of negotiations there had been 80 Palestinians killed, more than 400 incarcerated, and 10,000 settler homes approved, with no substantive discussion of final borders, Jerusalem, or other subjects they considered to be crucial. We urged them to continue their efforts and not to be responsible for breaking off the peace talks.

During the day we monitored closely the latest reconciliation effort in Gaza, and we were gratified to receive reports of substantial progress and apparent success. The signed agreement is to be implemented by President Mahmoud Abbas within the next five weeks, to be followed by an interim government of technocrats and an election for president, parliament, and PLO leadership after six months. The Carter Center is prepared to monitor the election process, as we have for the previous three major Palestinian elections plus several local elections. The Carter Center already has full-time representatives in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Gaza, and they will be quickly supplemented by election specialists.

We spent the final day drafting and issuing a statement by The Elders, and making plans for the future. I had an interview about my book with Le Monde before returning to Atlanta.

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