EU to boost ties with Egypt, says presidency

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LUXEMBOURG: The European Union has decided to deepen its relations with Egypt, the Czech EU presidency announced Monday.

The EU supports Egyptian efforts to work on closer ties with the EU, and has therefore decided to set up a group to consider ways for strengthening bilateral relations, said Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the EU presidency, after EU-Egypt talks in Luxembourg.

We noted the implementation of the (EU-Egypt) action plan has really given a big push in Egypt, therefore it is the right moment to start with the upgrading, echoed EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, while cautioning it would take a certain time.

We will try to work with Egypt on the contents now. We have to give a concrete content to this active engagement, she added.

The EU made the proposal regarding Egypt at a time when the question of upgrading ties with Israel is the subject of strong debate among EU leaders.

Last week Ferrero-Waldner said it was not the right moment to boost bilateral ties with the Jewish state.

Egypt s Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, who attended the Luxembourg meeting, expressed the hope that the discussions could lead to an effective deepening of ties in 2010.

I am sure that next year we would have that final agreement on the enhancement of relations between Egypt and the EU, as long as our will and the EU s will is there to push forward, he said. -AFP

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