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Libya Hosts Mini-Summit on Proposed Mediterranean Union


Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has criticized French proposals for a union of Mediterranean states as an insult to Arabs and Africans.

France proposed the union last year as a trading bloc that would include EU nations and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr. Gadhafi said Tuesday that Europe is enticing nations south of the Mediterranean to join the union by proposing joint development projects. He said Arabs and Africans do not want to be treated like beggars.

Mr. Gadhafi was speaking in Libya's capital, Tripoli, at a one-day summit of North African states plus Syria. He told visiting leaders that joining a union with Europe would undermine existing Arab and African organizations.

Mr. Gadhafi said that if Europe wants to cooperate with the region, it should work through the Arab League and the African Union.

The Libyan leader also noted that a previous European plan for cooperation in the Mediterranean region had failed after it was launched in Barcelona in 1995.

Tuesday's summit in Tripoli was attended by leaders of Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was invited but Egyptian officials say he did not attend because of a heavy schedule.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to unveil more details of the proposed Mediterranean Union at a summit in Paris on July 13. Some Arab states want clarifications from France about the role Israel would play in the organization.

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