First Published: 2009-04-21

 
‘5+5 Forum’ discusses relaunch of Med Union
 

Senior officials from 10 countries meet in Cordoba to discuss relaunch of Mediterranean Union.

 

Middle East Online

Morocco is co-chairing the meeting with Spain



CORDOBA - Senior officials from 10 western Mediterranean countries met here Tuesday to discuss the relaunch of the Mediterranean Union, which has been stalled over the recent war in Gaza.

The one-day meeting in the southern city of Cordoba brought together foreign ministers or representatives from Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia.

France was represented by Pierre Sellal, secretary general of the foreign ministry, instead of Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was also absent, his place taken by Secretary of State Stefania Craxi.

Launched at a Paris summit in July, the Mediterranean Union groups EU member states with countries in North Africa, the Balkans, the Arab world as well as Israel in a bid to foster cooperation in one of the world's most volatile regions.

But the project has been the victim of the 22-day war in the Gaza Strip that ended on January 18 as Arab countries have refused to sit next to Israel.

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana has also called an informal meeting for Thursday in Brussels to try and revive the project, a European source in Cairo said Monday.

The ministers at the "5+5 Forum" in Cordoba will also discuss the issue of the Western Sahara.

"We are looking, in the name of the Arab Maghreb Union, for the support of France and Spain to contribute to a narrowing of positions... to reach a solution on the issue," Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi-Fihri, who is co-chairing Tuesday's meeting with Spain, told Arab media.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month that Morocco and the independence movement Polisario remain far apart on how to settle the Western Sahara dispute and a resumption of stalled talks needs careful preparation.

The Polisario has disputed Morocco's claim to the territory since Rabat annexed it after former colonial power Spain withdrew in the mid-1970s.

Four fruitless rounds of UN-brokered talks in the New York suburb of Manhasset since 2007 have failed to resolve the long-standing dispute.

Rabat has offered a form of autonomy for the territory under Moroccan sovereignty, while the Polisario wants a referendum on self-determination that would include the option of full independence.

 

US, Iranian top diplomats confront each other for first time

Moscow accuses US of hitting Syrian regime forces

Turkey, Iran and Iraq make joint threat against Kurd vote

Thousands of Huthi supporters mark 3 years since Sanaa takeover

Gemstone purchase essential for Najaf pilgrims

UN sets up probe of IS war crimes in Iraq

Air strikes kill 22 civilians in northwest Syria in 48 hours

Iranian supreme leader lashes out at Trump UN speech

Iraq attacks all remaining IS territory at once

Turkey jails lawyers representing hunger striking teachers

Syrian Kurds to hold first local elections in federal push

Qatari expats lauded as statesmen by Arab critics

Shipwreck off Libyan coast leaves over 100 migrants missing

Will Turkey’s opposition to Kurdish state translate into action?

US ups the ante on Iraq Kurds

Macron: Iran nuclear deal no longer enough

Trump’s mind made up on Iran but refuses to divulge

Scores of Iraqis missing during war against ISIS

Netanyahu rejects calls for mixed gender worship at Western Wall

Russia accuses US of missile treaty breach

Iran TV translator mocked for watering down Trump speech

Saudi Arabia hopes Kurdish referendum will not take place

Saudi invites women to sports stadium for first time

Saudi set to create $2.7 billion investment company

Humanitarian disaster grips Yemen three years since Houthi takeover

What will become of Iraq’s Hawija after ISIS?

Multi-ethnic Kirkuk tense ahead of referendum

UN awaits Iran’s defence against Trump nuclear deal threats

US-backed SDF seizes 90% of Syria's Raqa

Man hanged in Iran for rape, murder of child

Saudi to lift ban on internet phone calls

Sisi calls for peace, co-existence in Mideast

Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds call off referendum

US looking to revisit Iran nuclear deal

Trump expects Gulf dispute to be resolved quickly

Bashir calls on Darfur displaced to return

Saudi Aramco could release accounts in early 2018

Saudi-led coalition says rebels hindering Yemen food imports

Jihadist activity prompts regime, Russian air strikes in Syria safe zone

Two prominent rights activists arrested in Saudi Arabia

Israel shoots down Hezbollah drone over Golan Heights

Iraqi forces launch assault on IS in western Anbar province

Families of the missing, the forgotten victims of war in Lebanon

25 killed in South Sudan clashes

Suicide attack on Iraq restaurant kills three