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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Euro-Arab dialogue in Malta

Amr Moussa, the head of the the Arab League, has criticised a lack of progress in the Middle East peace process after EU and Arab foreign ministers ended two days of talks in Malta, from AlJazeera:

"We see no progress. We want to send a message, a message of concern," he said after the talks, the first between the two blocs at the level of foreign minister. Moussa recalled last year's US-hosted meeting in Annapolis where leaders had agreed to try to conclude a peace deal by the end of this year. He said: "We all supported the process with the hope that it will bring peace in 2008. We are now asking what happened, why no progress?"

In a final communique, the ministers said they supported "the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which are the only way to achieve a peaceful two-state solution. "Only a comprehensive political agreement can deliver sustainable security for all peoples of this region."...The meeting called "for the immediate re-opening of the crossings between Gaza and Israel so that essential goods and services, including fuel, can be supplied on a continuous basis".

Energy and climate change were also on the agenda. The ministers also discussed Lebanon, migration and inter-cultural dialogue, said Michael Frendo, Malta's foreign minister. On Lebanon, they stressed their conviction that a plan unanimously endorsed by Arab League foreign ministers in January "is an appropriate basis for a solution to the ongoing crisis".

Nine EU countries and 12 member states of the Arab League were represented at the talks, including Spain, Italy, Ireland, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Frendo launched the initiative for the talks in September 2006 with a letter to the then-Finnish EU presidency. Egypt offered to host the next meeting of the two blocs, but no dates were set in the final communique, which called for continued dialogue.

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