Palestinians pressured at Mediterranean summit: minister
Palestinian foreign minister said delegates at the Mediterranean summit came under heavy pressure to drop their objections to the final declaration.16 July 2008
PARIS - Palestinian delegates at a Mediterranean summit in Paris came under "extremely heavy pressure" to drop their objections to the final declaration, the Palestinian foreign minister said Tuesday.
"We came under extremely heavy pressure and were told that we would be held responsible for the failure (of the summit) if we did not reach agreement on the text," said Riyad al-Maliki in a radio interview.
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas was among the more than 40 leaders who inaugurated a new Mediterranean union on Sunday, hoping to bolster Middle East peace efforts and promote cooperation in the volatile region.
The Palestinians opposed what al-Maliki said were last-minute changes to the wording in the founding declaration that dropped UN language on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Why were the terms of reference totally scrapped?" asked al-Maliki. "We have never received a satisfactory explanation."
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday that the wording of the final declaration "will have to be corrected a bit" because of the Israeli-Palestinian disagreement.
During the summit, leaders agreed on a batch of modest projects such as cleaning up pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, improving shipping routes and developing solar energy.
But the Middle East peace process loomed large over the gathering, with a flurry of meetings on the sidelines underscoring the need for progress.
[AFP / Expatica]