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EU: Middle East Overshadows Enlargement

Biarritz, 13 October 2000 (RFE/RL) - European Union leaders open a two-day summit today in France. The meeting in the resort of Biarritz was supposed to focus on institutional reforms to prepare the EU for enlargement. But reports now say the violence in the Middle East is expected to top the agenda.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is due to brief EU leaders on the Mideast after returning from a trip there this week.

Yugoslavia also is on the summit's agenda. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica is expected tomorrow to go to the summit.

European Commission President Romano Prodi said yesterday he will present a plan that foresees a "considerable amount" of humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia. Prodi's aides said the plan will offer some 170 million dollars in urgent winter aid -- food, medicines and fuel.

The EU leaders also will discuss progress in negotiations aimed at concluding a new EU treaty by the end of the year. The treaty will streamline EU decision-making to cope with up to a dozen new members.