News / Europe

EU Ministers Discuss Syria, Middle East Peace

Palestinian women walk next to a mural of militants on the first day of Eid al-Fitr in the West Bank town of Jenin, August, 30, 2011.
Palestinian women walk next to a mural of militants on the first day of Eid al-Fitr in the West Bank town of Jenin, August, 30, 2011.

European Union foreign ministers kicked off a two-day meeting in Sopot, Poland, Friday to discuss a variety of common topics, including the Middle East peace process and sanctions against Syria.

The 27 EU member nations are looking at taking a unified position on Palestinian statehood in a United Nations vote later this month.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who backs an independent Palestinian state, urged the EU to reach a consensus so it can "speak with a single voice."

Though Sarkozy's position is backed by a number of member states, such a consensus may be difficult to achieve.  The United States has said it would veto the Palestinians' U.N. bid, and both Germany and Italy oppose the move, calling instead for a return to Arab-Israeli peace talks.  

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the European nations are united in their desire to restart the peace process.  She says the eventual goal is a two-state solution, in which a secure, stable Israel exists side-by-side with a secure, stable Palestinian state.

The meeting also is focusing on ways to stop the violence in Syria.  In a statement Friday, the EU said it was imposing an embargo on Syrian oil imports, which will cost President Bashar al-Assad's government millions of dollars every day in money it earns selling oil to the EU.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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