Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: Soldier's suicide sparks security fears for departing French president

June 24, 2008 |  7:49 am

An Israeli policeman reportedly shot and killed himself during a farewell ceremony Israeli leaders were holding for French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

Sarkozy was in Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel Radio said that after the shooting, security forces quickly pushed Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Perez into cars. Local reports said the shooting sent Bruni running up the stairs into their airplane, while security forces surrounded Sarkozy and whisked him on board as well.

Sarkozy was there to bolster France's ties with Israel and pledge support in confronting Iran over its nuclear program. During the visit, Sarkozy pledged greater European Union support for Palestinians and urged Israel to stop the spread of settlements in the West Bank.

A police spokesman said the policeman died in an apparent suicide. Police say there was no assassination attempt on Sarkozy and that he was not in danger.

— Nicole Gaouette

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

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