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Mayor of Paris signs historic cooperation agreement with Bethlehem

May 14, 2015 2:33 P.M. (Updated: May 14, 2015 7:15 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, on Wednesday undertook a historic visit to Bethlehem, where she signed two major partnership agreements with mayor of the city, Vera Baboun, to improve water networks in the biblical town.

"The municipal council of Paris is aware of the hardships the Palestinian people face, especially in Bethlehem, but we admire very much their spirit of determination and the positive attitude to life," Hidalgo told Ma'an.

The strategic agreements signed between Bethlehem and Paris will help improve water networks in the city and mitigate the negative impact of the Israeli separation wall on Bethlehem's natural development.

Hidalgo confirmed that the municipal council of Paris would also help develop the tourism sector in Bethlehem to help create work opportunities for young men and women.

Cooperation between the two cities is dedicated to promoting peace and stability in the Holy Land, the Mayor of Paris said.

Attending the signing of the agreements at the Bethlehem municipality were the mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun, Head of the Palestinian Water Authority Mahir Ghuneim, the Consul General of France in Jerusalem, the director of the French Development Agency and the director general of the Paris water company.

Ghuneim said the agreements were part of a larger project to improve the water and waste water services in Bethlehem.

The project, he added, will also provide technical and institutional support to Bethlehem and will mark a "qualitative jump for Bethlehem water and waste water authorities."

The governments of France and the Netherlands will fund an 18-million project in Bethlehem as part of the agreement, Ghuneim said.

Bethlehem mayor Vera Baboun applauded the support of the French government and people and warmly welcomed Mayor Anne Hidalgo, with the two officials exchanging gifts.

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