Med Union summit delayed to ensure its success: Spain

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The foreign ministers of Egypt, France and Spain said on Sunday that a Mediterranean Union summit was delayed until later this year to ensure it is not affected by tensions in the Middle East.

Spain's Miguel Angel Moratinos told reporters in Cairo the decision to hold the meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM) in November instead of June was aimed to "guarantee the full success of the UPM summit."

Moratinos, who said last week that the delay was done to give time for progress in indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians, added that the move did not mean the Union was "working to reduce ambitions."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told reporters the postponement of the summit would "allow the three parties to get enhanced support."

His visiting French counterpart Bernard Kouchner said that there was "no crisis" and that "we are working for success in November."

Egypt and France are co-chairman of the Mediterranean Union, while Spain hosts the group's headquarters and currently holds the European Union presidency.

Moratinos' ministry announced on Thursday that the trio had agreed to postpone the summit and that Barcelona would now host it in the third week of November.

"We've been through some difficulties" since the group's launch, Moratinos said on Sunday, adding: "There is a very difficult situation in the Middle East."

The first indication of uncertainty about the summit came last week when Israel's far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisted he would attend despite a reported Arab threat to boycott the talks over his planned presence.

The 43-nation Union was established in 2008 in Paris by France and Egypt in a bid to foster cooperation in one of the world's most volatile regions.

© 2010 AFP

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