Israeli-Arab tensions could cancel top level conference

Diplomatic sources say the cancellation has been unfairly blamed on stalled peace talks; other regional tensions are actual reason.

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November 12, 2010 02:56
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Tension between Israel and neighboring Arab states has likely lead to the cancelation of a meeting of leaders from European and Arab Mediterranean states in Barcelona scheduled for the 21st of this month, according to diplomatic sources.

A statement about the delay of the Union for the Mediterranean Conference had not been issued by press time.

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Some 43 prime ministers and foreign ministers from 27 European states and 16 Mediterranean ones had been invited.

Diplomatic sources said the cancellation had been unfairly blamed on the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, when in fact it was other regional tensions which threatened to scuttle the talks.

According to diplomatic sources, Turkey threatened to pull out of the meeting if Israel participated. Egypt similarly threatened to pull out if Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was part of the Israeli delegation.

Should the conference go forward as scheduled, Israel said that its delegation would be by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu but insisted that Lieberman would also attend, diplomatic sources said.

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