France: 'Egypt could be one of new Med Union heads'

Egypt could lead southern states in the new Union for the Mediterranean, which France plans to launch in July, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Sunday.

France: 'Egypt could be one of new Med Union heads'
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was forced to scale back plans for a full EU-style "Mediterranean Union" after fierce German resistance and wants to launch the new grouping of 27 EU countries and their southern neighbours in Paris in July.

Kouchner said that the new grouping would have two presidencies -- one for the northern and one for the southern states of the Mediterranean.

"As to what concerns the southern Mediterranean countries, a lot is speaking for Egypt," he told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio in an interview.

Asked whether Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would be a suitable leader, he said:

"Of course he would be a possible leader for the Union for a Mediterranean, together with a representative from northern Mediterranean countries. That could possibly be France, but there will be rotation."

Kouchner said the seat of the grouping's secretariat was still under discussion, adding: "I was in Morocco not long ago. Mr Mubarak was in France. Things are moving forward."

Sarkozy's plans for the new Union have been controversial both within and outside the European Union.

The French president was forced to scale back his original plans after Germany voiced strong reservations, fearing the new body would split the EU and siphon off common funds.

In March, EU leaders agreed to a limited form of union involving a regular summit between EU and Mediterranean leaders, with a joint presidency and a small secretariat.

Syria, Libya and some other Arab countries also seem concerned over the project as it might suggest an indirect normalisation of their relations with Israel without any settlement of the Palestinian occupation.

Reuters
Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2008, 14:56
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