Arabs won't sit with FM, summit nixed

Summit canceled after Eg

By JPOST.COM STAFF
October 26, 2009 16:48
1 minute read.

A summit of Mediterranean states planned to be held in Istanbul in November was canceled on Monday after Egypt and other Arab states refused to sit round the same table with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit led the move to ban the meeting over Lieberman's attendance, Channel 10 reported. In response to the summit's cancellation, Foreign Ministry sources in Jerusalem told Army Radio that it was "a shame that Egypt is serving as a negative influence in the region, by turning a meeting intended to benefit it and other states in the area into a political issue." The sources said that by turning the summit into an opportunity to shun the minister, Cairo is both "harming itself and angering the European states." The planned meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Turkey is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, formerly known as the Barcelona Process, which was re-launched in 2008 as the Union for the Mediterranean. The Partnership includes all 27 member states of the European Union, along with 16 partners across the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East. France, which initiated the summit, considered inviting heads of state rather than foreign ministers to the meeting, but eventually the summit was canceled altogether. In related news, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Lieberman of threatening to attack the Gaza Strip with a nuclear weapon during Operation Cast Lead, in an interview published Monday in The Guardian. Lieberman's media adviser Tzahi Moshe disregarded Erdogan's allegation, saying "we do not respond to every piece of nonsense." While Erdogan insisted that the strategic alliance between Israel and Turkey still exists, he appeared at present to be in better relations with Iranian leaders than with Israeli ones. "There is no doubt he is our friend," Erdogan said of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called on several occasions for the destruction of Israel. "As a friend so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all." In Istanbul on Monday, some 500 pro-Islamic Turks held an anti-Israel protest over recent clashes between Arab rioters and security forces in Jerusalem. The protesters marched toward the heavily guarded Israeli Consulate and burned an Israeli flag, chanting "We will protect Al-Aksa mosque."


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