EU Ministers to hold crisis talks on Lebanon

The Finnish Presidency of the EU has called an emergency meeting of European Foreign Affairs Ministers to discuss the escalating violence in the Middle East. 

The meeting of European Foreign Affairs Ministers will take place on 1 August 2006, less than a week after the crisis summit held in Rome, on 26 July, where representatives of the international community pledged to work together towards reaching “with the utmost urgency a ceasefire that puts an end to the current violence and hostilities”, and endorsed the idea of deploying an international peacekeeping force. 

France, Germany, Italy and Greece have already signalled interest in joining such a peace force and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said “I cannot imagine the force without any Europeans”. 

The European Commission has already committed 20 million euros in humanitarian aid and is pushing the European Parliament and Member States to allow it to release a further 30 million euros. 11 million euros will also be made available to help citizens from poorer countries leave Lebanon. 

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner will travel to the Middle East for talks with leading figures in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon on 27 and 28 July. “The EU has to show leadership and do its utmost to facilitate a return to peace” said Tuomioja. 

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