Home | News    Monday 26 July 2004

WTO, Mideast and Darfur to top E.U. ministers’ agenda


BRUSSELS, July 26, 2004 (dpa) — European Union foreign ministers started talks Monday focusing on efforts to clinch a new World Trade Organization (WTO) trade deal as well as the crisis in the Middle East and Darfur.

Ministers are expected to take stock of progress being made in Geneva on reviving stalled free-trade talks amid growing French criticism of recent efforts by E.U. trade chief Pascal Lamy to open up the bloc’s farm sector.

The E.U. meeting comes ahead of a last-ditch session of the WTO’s executive General Council in Geneva opening on Tuesday.

E.U. ministers are also expected to review relations with Israel following last week’s decision by the 25 nation bloc to back a United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s construction of a so-called security fence on Palestinian territories.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has warnd that the E.U. vote damages the bloc’s role as Middle East peace broker.

But E.U. foreign and security chief Javier Solana who was in Israel last week said while the Union backed Israel’s right to security and self- defence, the barrier broke international law by snaking deep into occupied territory in some areas, incorporating dozens of Jewish settlements.

E.U. governments will also repeat demands that the Sudanese government put an end to the crisis in Darfur where marauding Arab Janjaweed militia are accused of driving thousands of people from their homes.

The E.U. talks come only a few days after the U.S. Congress denounced the violence in Darfur region as "genocide."

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted unanimously for resolutions urging U.S. leaders and the international community to begin "calling the atrocities being committed in Darfur by their rightful name: genocide".

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