72 Countries to Attend Mideast Peace Summit in Paris

PARIS (AP) - French authorities are expecting 72 countries to attend Sunday’s Middle East peace conference in Paris — but not Israel nor the Palestinians.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have been invited to come to France after the conference to be informed of its conclusions. Netanyahu has declined the invitation — saying only direct negotiations will produce a solution.

Abbas is expected to visit the French capital at the end of the week on the sidelines of the conference. It was unclear whether he would meet French President Francois Hollande.

Participants will include U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In his final trip as secretary, Kerry will first travel to Vietnam, then to Paris on the day of the summit, January 15, and then on to London and Davos, Switzerland.

France wants “to restart the (negotiation) process at a moment when it has been largely abandoned,” Le Foll said.