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Source: European Union (EU)
7 September 2004

EU Foreign Ministers discuss Middle East, Iraq and Iran
[ 03-09-2004 | Press releases (CFSP) | General Affairs and External Relations ]

“The EU Foreign Ministers today reviewed developments in the Middle East peace process and reaffirmed the importance of Quartet and road map”, said Minister Bernard Bot, President of the Council of Ministers, at a press conference on Friday night, following the first day of discussions of the six-monthly Gymnich meeting.

The Minister added that the EU Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed their support in principle to Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan, provided it concurs with the EU’s five known conditions.

According to Minister Bot, the EU expressed its deep concern about the Israeli government’s decision to expand settlements on the West Bank.

“Viability of the withdrawal initiative requires changes in the field of economy, security and governance”, said the Minister.

Referring to extensive talks he had with his Israeli counterpart, Shalom, Minister Bot expressed satisfaction about the fact that the Israeli authorities not only recognize that EU involvement is needed, but also that this would be in the interest of Israel. “A failed state is in nobody’s interest”, said Minister Bot.

He stated that the EU should take joint action, but pointed out that close cooperation is needed also between the Israeli authorities and the Palestinians.

Speaking about Iraq, another issue addressed by the EU Foreign Ministers, Minister Bot said that the exploratory mission that visited Iraq recently, made a number of suggestions for help from the EU side.

The minister noted a clear wish in Iraq to see the EU represented there and pointed out that, if the EU can be of assistance, it should take up that role. He specified that the EU is committed to helping Iraq with the electoral process as well as with a training program aimed at setting up an effective administration, police force and border patrol.

The EU is also committed to contributing to the UN protection force. “A few millions are lacking to establish this protection force and I appealed to all my colleagues to fill the gap”, said Minister Bot.

Finally, the minister expressed concern over Iran, in particular regarding its nuclear activities. “The EU is sending out a strong signal to Iran about what it expects of the country”, he said. He appealed to Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA and made it clear that the EU Foreign Ministers are united in their call on Iran to live up to its commitments in this respect.

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