Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw indicated Monday the European Union was not inviting Syrian President Bashar Assad to a special Euro-Mediterranean summit later this month to mark the 10th anniversary of closer ties between the two regions.
The move was seen as a protest against insufficient Syrian cooperation with the UN inquiry into the Feb. 14 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Straw, whose country holds the EU presidency, did not answer when asked if Assad was invited, but said Syria's Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa "is being invited in the normal way to the Euro-Med meeting."
Other EU officials confirmed Assad would not be invited.
The summit is to draw leaders from across Europe, North Africa and Middle Eastern countries that border the Mediterranean to mark a decade of building closer cooperation. During that time, the EU has given billions of euros (dollars) in aid to encourage political and economic reforms and regional integration.
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