1. Syrian President Bashar Assad walking into Elysee Palace UPSOUND Fanfare
2. Tracking shot of Assad walking towards building
3. Wide of French President Nicolas Sarkozy waiting at top of steps
4. Zoom on Assad ascending steps and shaking hands with Sarkozy
5. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Bashar Assad, President of Syria:
"The peace process has moved along through an American initiative over several months and has involved Syria and Palestine but nothing concrete has resulted. Should one blame the mediators? One can't do that without reference to the parties concerned. On the one hand, the Arab sides have been willing to make peace but, on the Israeli side, this (expression) is non-existent."
6. Mid of Sarkozy and Assad shaking hands and walking inside
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday blamed a lack of willingness on the part of Israel for the stalled Middle East peace process.
Assad made the comment in Paris after meeting his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace.
Assad said the "Arab sides have been willing to make peace but, on the Israeli side, this (expression) is non-existent."
After months of gruelling diplomacy, using a mixture of pressure and promises, the US on Tuesday abandoned attempts to persuade Israel to slow West Bank settlement activity.
The Palestinians had demanded the freeze in exchange for engaging in direct talks that were supposed to lead to a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel.
That deal, it was hoped, would lead to a broader Middle East peace accord.
Assad and Sarkozy also discussed the situation in Lebanon.
A spokesman for the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri said on Wednesday it will be weeks or even several months before the details of expected indictments are made public.
The court has kept silent on possible suspects, but several foreign media reports have said the court has evidence that members of Hezbollah, the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite militant group, were behind the assassination.
That is raising fears of more violence in the fractured country.
Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who was Lebanon's most prominent politician in the years after the 1975-1990 civil war, might have made enemies by seeking in the last few months of his life to limit Syria's influence in the country, a legacy of the years of conflict.