Foreign affairs ministers discuss anti-terrorism co-operation and Middle East

Terrorism will top the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council but the Lisbon strategy and the development of a strategic partnership between the EU and the Mediterranean and Middle East countries will also be dealt with.

Foreign affairs ministers are due to finalise an annotated draft agenda and draft conclusions for the European Council on combating terrorism and the Lisbon Strategy during their meeting on 22 March 2004. While the Council will be fine-tuning a package of counter terrorism measures, intelligence chiefs from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK and Member States' senior police officers will be meeting in Madrid and Dublin to reinforce operational co-operation.

Foreign affairs ministers will also discuss the development of a Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East to raise the EU's engagement in the region. They will consider an interim report prepared by the Presidency on the development of such a Partnership and discuss the recent proposals and related events, in particular the elaboration of the EU "New Neighborhoods" policy, suggestions by individual EU Member States as well as the Greater Middle East initiative of the United States. The Presidency, the High Representative and the Commission are due to present the EU's vision to Middle East countries over the coming months. The Irish Presidency is expected to present a full report on the Strategic Partnership, in the light of the various consultations, to the European Council on 17-18 June.

Outbreaks of violence in the Western Balkans, Macedonia's application to the EU, Iran's nuclear programme and the preparation of the European and Asian Foreign Ministers (ASEM) meeting in April are also on the agenda.


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