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Bonino at EU Foreign Affairs Council – Egypt, Middle East and Syria on the agenda

Egypt, human rights, the peace process and Syria are the main items on the Foreign Affairs Council agenda in Brussels. In her introductory considerations, High Representative Catherine Ashton will be speaking briefly about Myanmar (adoption of the conclusions with a framework document on relations with the EU is expected), “water diplomacy” (conclusions expected also on this item) and recent developments in the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue.

The day’s first point of order will be Egypt, especially in light of High Representative Ashton’s visit there. Minister Bonino has repeatedly underscored the urgency of encouraging the new Egyptian authorities to use an inclusive approach with the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists in efforts toward the future stability of Egypt.

Middle East peace process, Lebanon and Syria

Middle East themes will include the peace process, Lebanon and Syria. Regarding the first of these, High Representative Ashton will report on her latest contacts and on U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s ongoing commitment; the Italian foreign minister will reiterate the need for the European Union to facilitate the U.S. administration’s efforts as much as possible. In relation to Lebanon, Minister Bonino will underscore the urgency of achieving Member State consensus – on the basis of the EEAS (EU foreign policy) proposal – that ensures Union cohesion and does not jeopardise internal Lebanese stability.

EU action on Syria

Speaking about Syria, the High Representative will report on her contacts with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on prospects for the political process and will discuss the strategic lines of the EU’s actions over the coming months. Among those lines of approach, according to Bonino, are: continued support for negotiating prospects at the Geneva 2 Conference; the EU’s assumption of a greater role, with a view to improving the effectiveness of the humanitarian response of the ground; encouragement of the new SOC leadership’s effective undertaking of a diplomatic route to a political solution.

Elections in Mali and Brussels conference on Somalia in September

The ministers will also discuss Africa, particularly the Great Lakes, a region critical to the continent’s geopolitical stability. Discussions will also include Mali, ahead of the local elections to be held at the end of the month, along with developments in Somalia, following the London conference and in anticipation of the one that Catherine Ashton is to co-chair with the Somali president in Brussels on 16 September.

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