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Anger at Israel's FM thwarts Mediterranean meeting

Anger at Israel's FM thwarts Mediterranean meeting

A meeting of all countries along the Mediterranean rim has been delayed because Egypt's foreign minister is refusing to meet his Israeli counterpart, France's top diplomat said Tuesday.
EU, Arab and Israel experts are trying to solve the impasse so the meeting can be held this year in Istanbul, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.
The foreign ministers of the Mediterranean Union _ a grouping of 43 countries including the 27 European Union states, Israel and North African countries _ were to hold a conference by the end of November.
"We are trying to meet as soon as we can ... but it's delayed," Kouchner said at an EU meeting in Luxembourg.
He said the Egyptian foreign minister, as co-chair of the Mediterranean Union, "is refusing to meet" Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a polarizing figure because of his hard-line positions on the Middle East peace process and Israel's Arab population.
EU diplomats have confirmed previously that Arab countries were refusing to meet face to face with Lieberman.
It is an awkward situation for France, which worked hard to put the Mediterranean Union together and hosted its first summit in July 2008, with Israeli and Arab leaders around one huge negotiating table. Since then, Israel's government has changed, and in June French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Lieberman.


Updated : 2021-04-16 07:49 GMT+08:00