EU urges Syria to play ME peace role, warns Iran

The European Union on Thursday embraced a Middle East peace initiative that urges Syria to play a constructive role in the region and hints to Iran of impending international sanctions over its nuclear program. The plan, discussed at the EU summit Thursday, has five components: an immediate cease-fire; formation of a Palestinian unity government acceptable to the international community; an exchange of prisoners, including the IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah this past summer; talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas; and an international mission in Gaza to monitor the cease-fire. EU foreign ministers reaffirmed the initiative, which was first put forward by Spain, France and Italy in mid-November, and leaders from the 25 EU nations will formally endorse it Friday.