January 7, 2009 / 3:05 PM / 11 years ago

Sarkozy sparks confusion on Gaza truce plan

(Adds Sarkozy’s office saying not announcing acceptance)

PARIS, Jan 7 (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday Israel had accepted an Egyptian truce plan for Gaza, but his office later said he was simply welcoming Israel’s previously announced reaction to the proposal.

Egypt said on Tuesday it was proposing an immediate truce between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, to be followed by talks on long-term border arrangements and an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Israel said it viewed talks on the proposal "positively" but stopped short of accepting Egypt’s plan.

"The president is delighted by the acceptance by Israel and the Palestinian Authority of the Franco-Egyptian plan presented last night in Sharm el-Sheikh by (Egyptian) President (Hosni) Mubarak," Sarkozy’s office said in a statement.

"The head of state calls for this plan to be implemented as quickly as possible for the suffering of the population to stop," it added.

The statement’s use of the term "acceptance" prompted Israel to say it had not accepted the Egyptian plan and it was still in talks on the proposal.

An official in Sarkozy’s office said later that the French statement was merely a reaction to Israel’s earlier positive comments about the plan and that it was not announcing Israel’s acceptance of the Egyptian proposal.

"It is a reaction to the statements by Israel and the Palestinians," the official said. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon amd Yann Le Guernigou)

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