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30 June 2005
EU PRESIDENCY 2005 - STRAW AT LONDON PRESS ASSOCIATION
EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW AND EUROPE MINISTER, DOUGLAS ALEXANDER, AT THE LONDON PRESS ASSOCIATION, WEDNESDAY 29 JUNE.
You said recently that you wanted during your Presidency to have the Middle East as one of your main priorities, and what do you intend to do about building on the Iraqi Conference in Brussels during your time as Presidency?
The Middle East is indeed a key priority for us, and that includes Israel/Palestine, Syria/Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Israel and Palestine, you will be familiar with the fact that I went to both Israel and the occupied territories just two and a half weeks ago, it is a very high priority, it is one in which we have an excellent Special Representative in Mark Otti who is out there, and in Javier Solana, someone who is extremely experienced as an international statesman and who spends a great deal of time on that dossier. Syria/Lebanon, the approach of the Syrian government is a matter of increasing concern to us and it will be high on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs and External Relations Council that I chair in mid-July. Iran is perhaps one of the best examples of an EU operational foreign policy in which the French, German and British Foreign Ministers, with Javier Solana, have been leading on the dossier and I have been involved in the last two years, and I will continue that work in the Presidency. On Iraq, the EU-US Conference last week was very successful, it showed the commitment of the international community for a new Iraq and a readiness to put aside the divisions that were there over the military action. There is a great agenda to take forward and we shall be doing that.