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EU foreign ministers meet to discuss Georgia, Zimbabwe
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08:49, September 16, 2008

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Foreign ministers from the 27-member European Union (EU) opened their two-day meeting on Monday to discuss issues related to the Georgia crisis, Zimbabwe and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round talks, and prepare for the EU summit in October.

The meeting, chaired by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, is expected to adopt a "common action" to deploy 200 EU observers in Georgia, in accordance with the Sept. 8 agreement the EU reached with the Russian and Georgian governments.

The ministers will also raise the issue of the EU contribution to the Georgian reconstruction efforts as well as the preparation of the international conference on the stability and security of Abkhazia and South Ossetia scheduled for Oct. 15 in Geneva.

The meeting is also expected to appoint a special representative to coordinate the EU's action in the context of the Georgian crisis.

The meeting will further examine the situation in Zimbabwe to assess the status of negotiations between the parties to form a government.

The meeting coincides with the scheduled signing on Monday of apower-sharing deal by Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party led by President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headed by Morgan Tsvangirai. The deal was reached last Thursday.

The ministers will also evaluate the Doha round talks in the wake of the failure of the July WTO ministerial meeting and the consequences for the EU.

Furthermore, they will review the situation in Serbia after the arrest and transfer of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the Hague and the relations between the EU and Serbia, which aspires to join the 27-member bloc.

The ministers will specify the framework for EU engagement in the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Meanwhile, they will hold first discussions on the preparation of the EU summit scheduled for Oct. 15-16 in Brussels.

In the margins of the foreign ministers' meeting, the EU is also scheduled to hold talks with Turkey, the Pacific Islands Forum, and African Union. The EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council and the EU-Uzbekistan Cooperation Council will also meet.


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