A ministerial meeting gathering some 80 foreign ministers or representatives from the European Union (EU) and Africa kicked off Wednesday morning at this Egyptian Red Sea resort for the preparation of an upcoming EU-Africa summit in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
The ministerial preparatory meeting will review the working plan, the declaration of the summit and an EU-African strategy to be presented at the second EU-Africa summit scheduled for Dec. 8-9 in Portugal in a bid to boost the relations between the two continents.
According to a press release of the meeting, the proposed joint EU-Africa Strategy to be endorsed at the Lisbon summit commits both continents to a renewed long-term political partnership based on Euro-Africa consensus on values, common interests and strategic objectives.
The preparatory meeting is also expected to discuss the agenda of the Lisbon summit and means of boosting bilateral relations between African and European countries as well as issues related to the economic development in Africa.
Addressing the opening session of the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said the upcoming Lisbon summit will be a new start of the relations between Africa and Europe based on the achievements of the first summit which was held 2000 in Cairo.
"We regard our meeting between Europe and Africa with great esteem and believe that cooperation and coordination will establish a firm foundation for reinforcing friendship ties between the two sides," said Abul Gheit.
"Moreover, it will provide an appropriate framework for supporting Africa's implementation of development programs in all sectors," Abul Gheit added.
Earlier on Tuesday before heading for Sharm el-Sheikh to inaugurate the meeting, Abul Gheit said Egypt's hosting of the preparatory meetings reflects his country's keenness on boosting dialogue between the two sides.
In 1996, Portugal proposed to hold an EU-Africa summit and Egypt helped promote the idea in Africa, Abul Gheit said.
The first EU-Africa summit was held in April, 2000, in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, resulting in the Cairo Declaration and the Cairo Plan of Action.
According to earlier reports by Egypt's official MENA news agency, the second summit, which was originally scheduled for 2006, was delayed due to crisis between Britain and Zimbabwe and the European side's opposition to the participation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
The Zimbabwean leader and Britain are at loggerheads since the seizure of white-owned farms by the Mugabe regime.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he will boycott the summit if Mugabe, who announced in late November his willingness to take part in the Lisbon summit, is present.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Aralık 2007, 15:55