Balkan foreign ministers have voiced support for a planned regional trade zone to help the area move closer to the European Union.

The statement came Wednesday at a two-day meeting of the 10-nation Southeast European Cooperation Process in the Greek city of Salonika.

After chairing the talks, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said the proposed Central European Free Trade Agreement is intended to boost development across the region.

The regional meeting is to continue Thursday with summit talks among government and state leaders.

Meanwhile, Ms. Bakoyannis discussed economic cooperation with her Macedonian counterpart, Ilinka Mitreva, on the sidelines of today's meeting. Officials said Ms. Bakoyannis expressed support for Macedonia's entry into the European Union.

Of the participants, only Greece is an EU member. Bulgaria and Romania are set to join by 2008.

Other nations at the summit are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro, and Turkey.

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