Brussels, 12 March 2010
Visit of HR/VP Ashton to the Middle East (14-18 March 2010)
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission will visit Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories from 14 to 18 March 2010. In the region Ms Ashton will meet with political leaders, civil society representatives, hold a key note speech in Egypt and meet with representatives of the EUBAM Rafah and the EUPOL COPPS Missions.
Prior to her visit, High Representative Ashton said: "The Middle East is a major foreign policy priority for the EU and I am pleased that I can visit the region so early on in my tenure. I will visit Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. After my visit, I will participate in Moscow at the Quartet Meeting."
"My visit is a sign of the importance the EU attaches to broad and deep relations with our Mediterranean partners and the Arab World. I am looking forward to visiting the region and engaging with all of the key actors. I also want to look at the contribution the EU is making in the region and can make in the future. I also feel there is a sense of urgency at the moment and a need to make progress on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a key European interest and the EU, on the basis of its December 2009 Council Conclusions, is determined to step-up its efforts to facilitate the peace process. I am going to the region with a clear message to encourage all actors to engage in talks that lead us to a comprehensive regional peace. This is in everyone's interest as it will deliver peace, security and prosperity to the whole region."
She added: "I am hopeful to visit Gaza, the EU is a major contributor of aid and I want to see for myself how we are spending our money and what kind of impact it has on the ground."
For further information on the EU relations with the visited countries please see: MEMO/10/75