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Last Updated: 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
This is Ms Royal's first visit to the Mid-East as presidential candidate
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"

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 electioneering.




SEE ALSO
France's Royal promises changes
17 Nov 06 |  Europe
Royal battles for nomination
08 Nov 06 |  Europe
France gears up for April polls
24 Oct 06 |  Europe
Europe diary: Royal progress
06 Oct 06 |  Europe

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