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EU: Euromed Summit Opens In Brussels

Brussels. 5 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The 15 nations of the European Union and 12 southern Mediterranean countries are set today to begin a two-day summit in Brussels focusing on the war against terrorism. The so-called Euromed group also will discuss the stalled Mideast peace process, with the EU expected to call for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is due to address the conference, which will be attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and several Arab foreign ministers.

Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh says Arafat's address will focus on the possibilities of resuming peace talks with Israel.

A spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Ministry says Arafat and Peres are not expected to meet at the conference.

They met briefly twice at a weekend forum on the Spanish island of Majorca. But aides say no issues of substance were discussed.

Arafat also is due to have talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and European Commission President Romano Prodi.

In London, European Union leaders met informally last night to discuss the war on terrorism and the stalled Mideast peace process. British Prime Minister Tony Blair hosted a dinner for French President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The prime ministers of Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands joined the talks, along with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. The leaders reaffirmed their support for the military, diplomatic and humanitarian activities of the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain all have offered military support for the U.S.-led war against suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

The leaders also stressed their determination to reinvigorate the Mideast peace process. A Blair spokesman said Blair briefed his guests on his recent trip to the Mideast, aimed at boosting Muslim support for the military campaign and rekindling the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Both Blair and Chirac are scheduled to meet U.S. President George W. Bush this week in Washington.

Meanwhile, former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani reviewed several hundred soldiers of the Afghan opposition Northern Alliance today in Jabal Saraj north of the capital Kabul. Rabbani, whom the UN still recognizes as Afghanistan's legitimate leader, said in a speech that the fighters are defending their country against what he called "the evil triangle" of Pakistan, the ruling Taliban and suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

He invoked the memory of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance military leader assassinated just before the 11 September terror attacks in the United States. Some people at the rally displayed pictures of Massoud.