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Britain Opposes Mitterrand Plan to Convene a Euro-arab Dialogue

November 13, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Britain has balked at a French plan to revive the moribund Euro-Arab dialogue.

The British foreign secretary, Sir Douglas Hurd, made clear his objections at a meeting of the 12 European Community foreign ministers here last week.

He referred specifically to French President Francois Mitterrand’s proposal to convene a joint meeting of the E.C. foreign ministers with those of the 22 Arab League member states in Paris next month.

Mitterrand floated the idea last month at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. The French hold the rotating chairmanship of the E.C. Council of Ministers through Dec. 31.

Mitterrand, who used the occasion to condemn Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians, said the Palestine Liberation Organization would participate.

But Hurd took issue with the participation of Syria and Libya, the two member states of the Arab League “suspected of sponsoring terrorism.”

It was Britain who took the lead to isolate both regimes four years ago, when they were implicated in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The E.C., in fact, imposed limited diplomatic sanctions on Syria, such as a ban on ministerial visits to Damascus. But those measures have since been eased.

Most of the E.C. countries agree it is necessary to revive the Euro-Arab political dialogue, which has been stalled for some years.

But some, in addition to Britain, are said to believe the time is not ripe for a high-level meeting, such as is proposed by Mitterrand.

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