Sarkozy and Zapatero discuss EU outlook

28th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

MADRID, Feb 27, 2007 (AFP) - French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday discussed the future direction of the European Union with his host, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, on a visit to Spain.

MADRID, Feb 27, 2007 (AFP) - French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday discussed the future direction of the European Union with his host, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, on a visit to Spain.

Speaking shortly after his arrival, Sarkozy said that Zapatero had shown himself "interested in the solutions I proposed" to give fresh impetus to a bloc which has been in crisis since voters in France and the Netherlands rejected a proposed EU constitution in 2005.

The Dutch and French "no" votes stalled talks on the draft EU constitution which aims to streamline decision-making in the enlarged 27-member bloc.

Spain is one of 18 nations which have approved the proposed charter by referendum or parliamentary vote but all member states must ratify the charter for it to take effect.

After talks with opposite number Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, Sarkozy -- neck and neck with Socialist rival Segolene Royal in the opinion polls after having built an early lead -- said both Paris and Madrid were at one regarding their commitment to combat the threat posed by armed Basque separatist group ETA.

ETA is blamed for more than 800 murders in a four-decade campaign to achieve an independent Basque state for the northern Spanish region and the Basque part of southwestern France.

On Europe, Sarkozy said EU states had to give their bid to pass the constitutional new impetus and move to adopt a simplified version of the proposed document in order to move forward, whereas Spain wants to retain the full provisions of the existing blueprint.

A Spanish government source said Zapatero believed it is "important to glean at first hand Sarkozy's ideas pertaining to Europe."

The source added the two men had held "very cordial" talks.

Paris and Madrid also hope to advance various bilateral projects, including a mooted high-speed rail link between the two countries.

Sarkozy, the French interior minister, visited a Madrid park to place a wreath in memory of the 191 people killed in the March 2004 train bombings in the capital.

The trial of 29 suspects is currently under way with verdicts expected in October.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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