Wednesday, June 21, 2006

EU-US summit sends joint messages on Iran, counter-terror

Monsters & Critics:
US President George W Bush and European Union leaders Wednesday sent a message of deepening transatlantic cooperation to tackle global flashpoints including a joint call for Iran to take a 'positive path' by suspending uranium enrichment.

A draft version of a nine-page joint declaration set to be issued at the EU-US summit in Vienna did not include a specific reference to EU calls for the closure of the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay. But the US vowed to ensure that measures take to combat terrorism complied fully with human rights law.

'Consistent with our common values we will ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply fully with our international obligations, including human rights law, refugee law and international humanitarian law,' the draft statement said. READ MORE

'We attach great importance to our ongoing in-depth dialogue on our common fight against terrorism and our respective domestic and legal obligations,' it added.

EU diplomats said the text represented 'a good success' for Europeans but admitted the language was not as specific or as strong as the 25-nation bloc would have liked.

The draft text - which diplomats said was negotiated up to the last minute - included a joint call on Iran to 'take the positive path' by accepting an EU offer to transfer civilian nuclear technology to Tehran in exchange for the suspension of uranium enrichment activities.

But there was also a warning that Iran's failure to take up the offer would lead to 'further steps in the United Nations Security Council,' a reference to possible sanctions.

Also included in the foreign policy section of the statement was a joint vow to support reform in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, including through the promotion of 'greater participation of civil society.'

Transatlantic cooperation would continue on issues related to the Middle East, the statement said, repeating US supprt for a new Palestinian aid fund to deliver assistance directly to the Palestinian people.

While backing the new aid 'mechanism', which will by-pass the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, the US did not promise any financial contributions to it.

The statement said the EU and the US would 'continue to deliver humanitarian assistance and promote Palestinian democracy and civil society' and also urged the new Palestinian government to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and to accept existing agreements and obligations.

'We will continue to call on Israel to ease restrictions on access and movement and to take additional steps including with respect to the Palestinian tax and customs revenues to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people.'

The EU and the US asked Syria to implement United Nations Security Council resolutions and to prevent its territory from being used to support violence in Iraq and end cross-border transit and support for terrorist groups.

'Similarly, Syria must end its support for Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and prevent the smuggling of arms and other support to these groups,' the draft said.

The statement vowed joint action to 'urge Syria to refrain from any attempt at destabilizing Lebanon' and said the EU and US would work hand in hand to 'support political, economic and institutional reforms in Lebanon as well as its sovereignty, democracy...and political independence.'

'We will support the newly constitutionally-elected government of Iraq and call upon it to continue the policies of inclusiveness as a means to overcome divisions within Iraq,' the declaration said.

It called for international support for the new Iraqi government in particular by increasing development, rule of law and security assistance...(and) providing generous debt relief.

The EU and the US said they would support Afghan efforts to build a democratic, accountable and sustainable state, paying special attention to governance, human rights and reform of the public administration.'

Transatlantic cooperation was also promised during the coming 'crucial period' for the Western Balkans.

'We will cooperate to stabilize the countries in the (Balkans) region, support their European and Euro-Atlantic perspectives and to combat organized crime and corruption,' the draft said.

The EU and the US said they attached 'great importance to relations with Russia' but voiced 'concern about some recent developments' in the country and the region.

There was a joint promised to work towards a rapid implementation of the Darfur peace agreement and ensuring successful elections on July 30 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.