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Spanish EU Presidency - EU and Egypt discuss situation in the Middle East and prospects for forthcoming Europe-Mediterranean summit

The European Union and Egypt have met in Luxembourg for the sixth meeting of the Association Council since the agreement governing economic, political and cultural relations between them came into force in 2004.

The EU was represented by the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule. Egypt was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Moratinos, whose country holds the Presidency of the EU during the first half of 2010, said the meeting was a success and that it had taken place at an important time, given the scope of the ambitious plans to enhance relations between the EU and Egypt and also to Egypt playing an active role in achieving peace and stability in the Middle East.

During the meeting the two sides broached the institutional changes resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon and the advances Egypt has made in social, economic and political matters.

They also discussed the EU and Egypt-s shared commitment to the Middle East peace process, which the Spanish minister described as "an urgent and necessary peace that cannot wait any longer."

“Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Madrid Peace Conference. We have to move forward as quickly as possible to achieve a two State solution, to give hope for the future of the entire region.”

The meeting also discussed other areas of joint interest, such as Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq, and Egypt's involvement in the foreign aspect of the Europe 2020 programme, which will guide EU economic growth over the next decade.

They also analysed how to improve the effectiveness of the neighbourhood policy the EU implements with the countries most geographically close to it, and reiterated their enthusiasm about the first EU-Egypt summit, which will take place on 6 June in Barcelona on the sidelines of the Union for the Mediterranean summit, and which will serve to define the new framework for enhanced relations proposed by both sides.

On this matter, Moratinos said that progress is being made on firming up the contents of the Euro-Mediterranean process, ensuring that the coming summit will produce concrete results.Among the progress so far, he cited the setting up of a permanent secretariat in Barcelona.

He also announced that the Union for the Mediterranean summit will approve a political declaration and an action plan for coming years, as well as evaluating the four large projects approved in Paris in 2008 on solar energy, sea highways, SMEs and the environment.

He said that better political conditions were needed in order for the summit to be a success. On this question he said that, "we are working with the Quartet, with Egypt and with other Arab countries to support US Government initiatives," for a swift revival of indirect Arab-Israeli negotiations.

He also called the EU "a major player in supporting the Palestinian prime minister" and the creation of a Palestinian State, with work on institution-building for this ongoing, as well as on the economic and political fronts.

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