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Mauritania Takes First Step Toward Relations with Israel

Israel and the West African nation of Mauritania have signed a mutual recognition agreement, marking a first step toward the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Under the agreement, Israel and Mauritania, a member of the Arab League, will set up interest sections in the Spanish embassies located in both countries.

The agreement was signed during the course of a two-day meeting held here this week at which the foreign ministers from 11 Mediterranean countries, including Israel, met with their counterparts from the 15-member European Union.

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat also attended the conference, where he was reportedly treated as a head of state. Libya was the only Mediterranean state not invited to the conference.

The two-day session, which focused on political and economic issues, concluded Tuesday with the issuing of a joint declaration calling for further political dialogue among all the states, increased E.U. assistance to its Mediterranean neighbors and cooperation to control illegal immigration, crime and drugs.

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