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Algeria keen on proposed Union for the Mediterranean
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20:50, May 29, 2008

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Algeria remains keenly interested in the establishment of the proposed Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci has said, stressing that "some obscure aspects in the proposal were hampering progress."

Speaking during a recent interview on national radio, the Algeria's chief diplomat said that France was the "initiator of the project even before the election of Nicolas Sarkozy to the French presidency."

"However, it has now become a European Union project as we know that decisions regarding the future union are increasingly being taken in Brussels rather than in Paris," said the Algerian foreign minister

This project can be "a new tool for fostering cooperation to complement the Barcelona Process which riddled with many gaps," said Medelci, adding that "it must be given the necessary time in order to have a real content."

During a recent meeting involving foreign ministers from Arab countries interested in the project in Cairo, Egypt, some countries had openly expressed "reservations" especially with regard to the issue of "financing projects," said the Algerian diplomat.

"We are asked to allocate funds while the contribution of the European Union remains insignificant," said Medelci, arguing that the richer EU should spearhead efforts to make the regional body viable.

Commenting on the meeting of Mediterranean countries' foreign ministers scheduled for June 5 and 6 in Algiers, Medelci said that "important and pertinent issues, including the situation in the Middle East," will be part of the agenda at the talks.

The question of the Union for the Mediterranean, said Medelci, was included on the agenda of the meeting within the framework of efforts to reach "a common position that will send a clear message to the decision-makers."

The meeting will provide a platform for "strengthening relations" between the Mediterranean countries and also defining "a common position on both the Palestinian issue and the situation in Lebanon," he said.

Turning to the issue of relations between Algeria and France, the foreign minister said that French investments in the North African country were "inadequate and below the ambitions of the two countries," and called for a "significant increase" in the future.

Further, the minister announced that the two countries will sign two agreements on cooperation in military and nuclear energy for civilian purposes during French Prime Minister Francois Fillon's official visit to Algiers on June 21.

In addition, Algeria and the EU will "in the coming days" hold "technical talks" on cooperation in the energy field in order to allow Algeria to "participate in the distribution of energy in Europe and establish partnerships with European countries on renewable energies in order to benefit from their experience," said the minister.

Regarding relations with neighboring Morocco, Medelci said that "in the future, we have the ambition to open our common borders." "But to do so, we should," he said, "create the necessary conditions through appropriate consultation and holding permanent dialogue between the two countries."

"The Algerian-Moroccan relations are very high, considering that the single point of divergence between us, namely the question of Western Sahara, can turn into a point of understanding" according to Medelci.

Furthermore, the issue of Western Sahara is expected to be "addressed in the framework of international legality and in accordance with United Nations decisions," said the Algerian foreign minister.

Source: Xinhua

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