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EU and US Agree To Boost Economic and Security Coopeation

Lisa Bryant

European and US leaders agreed to boost economic and security ties and cooperation on issues like foreign aid and climate change during a summit in Lisbon.

Following talks in Lisbon, European leaders and US President Barack Obama reaffirmed historically close transatlantic ties and vowed to deepen them in areas like boosting trade and investment and fighting security threats like organized crime and cyber-terrorism.  Among other areas, the two sides have agreed to establish a working group on cyber security that will report on progress within a year.

At a press conference, the European Union's permanent president, Herman Van Rompuy, said both sides would work closely on two other key foreign policy issues of mutual interest - Iran's nuclear program and an upcoming referendum on independence for southern Sudan.

The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to expected to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator next month.

"We believe we now have a very good chance to engage Iran in direct talks under the leadership of the high representative (Ashton) on December 5. On Sudan we need to ensure that the upcoming referenda reflect(s) the will of the populations concerned.  In order to build confidence in the referendum, the EU is deploying an electoral observation mission," said Van Rompuy.

Mr. Obama has lost some of his earlier superstar status in Europe. But he continues to be very popular on this side of the Atlantic and relations between the two sides are markedly warmer than with the previous Bush administration. The US president sought to reassure the Europeans of their continued importance for Washington.

"America's relationship with our European allies and partners is the cornerstone of our engagement with the world and it's a catalyst for global cooperation," he said.

The European-US talks followed a NATO summit in Lisbon in which leaders of the transatlantic alliance formally agreed to a time table for ending NATO's combat mission in Afghanistan and endorsed a roadmap for the alliance in the 21st century.

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