Arab, European leaders vow ‘new era’ of cooperation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and European Council President Donald Tusk attend the final session of the first joint European Union and Arab League summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2019
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Arab, European leaders vow ‘new era’ of cooperation

  • Leaders pledged to boost stability and prosperity in both regions and beyond

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Arab and European leaders ended their first summit on Monday pledging to launch a “new era” of cooperation on issues ranging from counter-terrorism to migration.
About 40 Arab League and EU leaders stressed at their two-day summit in Sharm El-Sheikh how their challenges were interlinked and required joint efforts to meet them.
In a final statement, the leaders pledged to “embark on a new era of cooperation and coordination” that would boost stability and prosperity in both regions and beyond, all within a rules-based international order.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the summit host, highlighted common interests on counter-terrorism, migration, economic development and efforts for peace in Yemen, Syria, Libya as well as between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, there were differences on how to deal with Iran. One Western diplomat said several Arab countries wanted a firmer position on Tehran in the final summit statement, but the Europeans refused.
Both sides agreed on the need to work together to manage migrant and refugee flows as well as fight extremists, though Europe is itself divided on migration.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the summit was important for acknowledging cultural, religious and other differences while trying to find “joint solutions,” such as in Syria.
He said the summit was a way to establish personal contacts and lay the groundwork for future talks.
German Chancellor Angel Merkel said: “The fate of the European Union depends to a significant degree on the fate of the countries of the Arab League.
“We saw this in the context of migration, of refugees, and therefore the task is to nurture multilateral cooperation, even if at times there are very different viewpoints.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel repeated an EU admission that it should have long ago held full summits with leaders of a neighboring region whose fates are linked.
“The situations in this region cause instability, insecurity, first of all for the region itself,” Michel said.
“There are countries that have numerous refugees following conflicts in the region, in Syria for example, but that also has an impact in Europe.”


Pompeo says ‘quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf incidents

Updated 10 sec ago
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Pompeo says ‘quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf incidents

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday it was “quite possible” Iran was responsible for sabotage of Gulf oil interests, although he stopped short of making a definitive conclusion.
“Given all the regional conflicts that we have seen over the past decade and the shape of these attacks, it seems like it’s quite possible that Iran was behind these,” Pompeo, who later Tuesday will brief US lawmakers on rising tensions with Tehran, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that while the threat from Iran in the region remains high, the potential for attacks on Americans had been "put on hold."

"I think our steps were very prudent and we've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans and that is what is extremely important," Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon. He did not provide further details.
"I'd say we're in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians," Shanahan added.