BARCELONA TO HOST MED UNION

Foreign ministers of the embryonic 43-nation Mediterranean Union meeting in Marseille, France, last Tuesday, announced that Barcelona would be the new group’s headquarters. The union embraces 27 EU states and countries in the Middle East and North Africa which plan to work together in areas such as water, energy and education. French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched the union at a summit in July. Barcelona was the site of a previous EU-led Mediterranean initiative, called the Barcelona Process. Arab-Israeli tensions dogged that process, but diplomats said a compromise deal was reached last week. Despite its initial opposition, Israel finally agreed to the Arab League participating “at all levels” of the union, provided an Israeli was appointed as one of five deputy secretary generals. The secretary general has not yet been named. The union is being co-chaired by Mr Sarkozy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mr Sarkozy has said the new grouping will help “build peace in the Mediterranean”.

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