French President Urges Mediterranean-Rim Leaders to Reconciliation, IntegrationBy VOA News
13 July 2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy greets Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak during arrivals for a Mediterranean Summit at the Grand Palais in Paris, 13 Jul 2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged Mediterranean-rim Middle East countries to emulate Europe's post-World War Two model of reconciliation and integration.
Mr. Sarkozy spoke Sunday at the inaugural summit in Paris of a Union for the Mediterranean. Leaders from more than 40 nations of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa are attending.
The summit is expected to be dominated by talks aimed at reenergizing Middle East peace efforts, and by the issues of climate change, energy, migration and fresh water resources.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is co-hosting the summit with Mr. Sarkozy, told heads of state they must work together to meet what he called the challenges of education, food safety, health and social welfare.
Leaders are expected to agree on a solar energy project, a broad-based student exchange program, and a plan for cleaning up the Mediterranean Sea.
The new union includes 42 countries, including Israel, as well as the Palestinian Authority. Most have sent a president or prime minister to the summit. Libya sent a minister as an observer.
A similar summit of European and Mediterranean leaders in Barcelona nearly three years ago fizzled, when leaders failed to agree on the definition of terrorism. European Union leaders at that gathering wanted a summit declaration to state that self-determination is not a justification for terrorism. Arab delegates insisted that Barcelona summit attendees recognize the right to resist foreign occupation