Iran General NewsIran to head agenda at foreign ministers talks

Iran to head agenda at foreign ministers talks

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DPA: European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels next week for a review of the bloc’s relations with Iran, Middle East nations and China. The talks on July 18 will be chaired for the first time by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw following Britain’s take-over of the rotating E.U. presidency from Luxembourg on July 1. DPA

BRUSSELS – European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels next week for a review of the bloc’s relations with Iran, Middle East nations and China.

The talks on July 18 will be chaired for the first time by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw following Britain’s take-over of the rotating E.U. presidency from Luxembourg on July 1.

E.U. diplomats said they expected no major breakthroughs at the meeting but said ministers would take stock of policy towards a number of countries and regions before key E.U. institutions shut down for the traditional August summer break.

Iran is top of the agenda with ministers from the so-called E.U.-3 – including Germany, Britain and France – expected to confirm that they are on track to develop a new package of trade and aid incentives designed to convince Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

The package is expected to be submitted to Tehran in early August.

Straw told the European Parliament this week that he hoped negotiations on the E.U. offer would be “fruitful,” adding that a failure of the talks would mean that the E.U. would refer the case to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and, after that, to the United Nations Security Council.

E.U. foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana will brief ministers on his visit to the Middle East focusing on the economic future of Gaza following Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Palestinian territory in August.

Diplomats said the E.U. would confirm support for the special international envoy for Gaza, James Wolfensohn, and also agree to provided continued support to the Palestinian civil police.

Ministers are expected to hold discussions over lunch with Terje Roed-Larsen, the U.N.’s special envoy for Syria and Lebanon.

Straw said earlier this week that E.U. negotiations on a first- ever trade agreement with Syria would only resume once it was clear that Damascus was complying with U.N. resolutions calling for its complete withdrawal from Lebanon and an end to interference in the country.

Preparations for an E.U.-China summit in Beijing on September 5 and a similar top-level meeting with India on September 7 will be discussed by ministers, diplomats said.

The meeting in Beijing is expected to mark the start of negotiations on a new E.U.-China cooperation agreement. The summit in New Delhi, meanwhile, will put the final touches on a “strategic partnership” between the E.U. and India.

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