BRUSSELS—The European Union wilk seek to strenghten its ties withe Arab countries during the first ever EU-League of Arab States Summit that opens Sunday in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
The two-day summit at the Red Sea resort aims to boost cooperation on a number of shared challenges including the situation in the region, migration, security and trade and investment.
Pressing global issues including how to coordinate efforts to derail the root causes of terrorism and cut support to terrorist networks will also be discussed. The summit also provides an opportunity for leaders to discuss the latest developments in the region, in particular n Syria, Libya and Yemen as well as the Middle East Peace Process.
At a preparatory meeting at ministerial level in Brussels earlier this month, despite a declared ”common ground” on several issues, the European Union and the League of Arab States were unable to approve a joint statement.
After the meeting, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said “common ground was there on 90-95 percent of issues.”
“Whatever happens in the Arab World affects Europeans and whatever happens in Europe affects the Arab World,” Mogherini said. “We have the responsibility of joining forces to find common solutions to common challenges,” she added.
But Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit pointed out that there were “more complications on the European side rather than the Arab side.”
Hungary objected to migration provisions in the statement, but the Europeans also wanted to avoid being seated around a summit table with Syria or Sudan’s leaders.
The two sides had a ‘’frank and constructive’’ exchange on several files, where common ground exists: support to a political transition in Syria, to a two-state solution to the Middle East Peace Process, on ‘’the recognition of Jerrusalem as a future capital of the State of Israel and Palestinr, ’’common efforts to find a way out of the war in Yemen and the conflict in Libya.
The Summit meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh will be co-chaired by EU Council President Donald Tusk and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will also attend the meeting as well as EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in charge of neighbourhood policy.