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Source: European Union (EU)
31 August 2004

EU Foreign Ministers to address ASEM, Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Balkans and Darfur at Gymnich meeting
[ 31-08-2004 | Press releases | General Affairs and External Relations ]

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot has invited his EU colleagues to Chateau St. Gerlach on 3 and 4 September for their six-monthly informal meeting (the so-called Gymnich meeting).

The meeting in St. Gerlach, in the South of the Netherlands, will start on the morning of 3 September with a discussion on ASEM enlargement. The special envoy of the Presidency for this issue, former Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hans van den Broek, will debrief on his activities of the past few weeks.

The afternoon session on Friday will be devoted to the Middle East, Iraq and Iran.

With regard to the Middle East peace process, the Foreign Ministers will explore ways for the EU to stimulate progress with the implementation of the Israeli withdrawal plans from the Gaza Strip, and to see whether the EU could be included in this process.

As for Iraq, the Netherlands Foreign Minister will brief his colleagues on his recent talks in Baghdad and on the preliminary findings of the exploratory mission which visited Iraq on 29 August.

The discussion on Iran will focus on the way forward for the EU’s relations with this country, taking advantage of recent contacts of a number of EU Foreign Ministers with that country.

On Saturday morning the EU Foreign Ministers will resume their meeting with an exchange of views on the Balkans (Serbia-Montenegro/Kosovo), focusing on the one hand on the future of Serbia and Montenegro’s relationship with the EU and on the other hand on the situation in Kosovo in light of the elections in October.

Finally, the discussion will be about the crisis in Sudan/Darfur, with the Ministers considering the various steps the Union could take, ranging from additional support to possible sanctions, depending on further developments both on the ground and in respect of the political process.

The working session will be followed by a working lunch with Foreign Ministers from the Candidate Member States, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia.

Minister Bot has decided to continue this traditional Gymnich meeting with partners from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and some key participants from the UN, the African Union and the Special Representative of the Presidency for the Mano River countries. Apart from discussing developments in the region, the African and EU ministers, including also the Dutch Minister for Development Co-operation, Agnes van Ardenne, will focus on the topic of peace and security in the West Africa region, as well as ways in which ECOWAS capacities in this field can be improved.

For more information, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information and Communication Department, tel; + 31 (0) 70 348 7510.

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