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Varadkar to attend first ever summit between EU and League of Arab States

He is also set to hold a series of bilateral meetings with EU and Arab leaders.

Image: Pignatelli/Euc/Ropi via PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR will attend a summit between the European Union and the League of Arab States which begins later today in Egypt.

Co-chaired by EU Council President Donald Tusk and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, this will be the first ever summit between leaders from the two regions. 

Representatives of 28 EU member states and 21 members of the Arab League are to look at issues such as regional peace and stability, migration, human rights, counter-terrorism, trade, economic development and climate action.

The summit begins this evening with an opening ceremony and plenary session, followed by an official dinner. 

It continues tomorrow morning with two more plenary sessions, and will conclude after lunch with the closing ceremony. 

Varadkar will make a formal statement during the plenary sessions, taking the opportunity to highlight Ireland’s priorities and perspective on a range of foreign policy issues. 

He is also set to hold a series of bilateral meetings with EU and Arab leaders. 

“This is the first time that leaders from EU member states and the Arab League have come together in this format to discuss shared priorities. Ireland has strong links with a number of Arab League states, through trade, our peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East and our significant expat communities in the Gulf. Also, we will soon open new embassies in Amman and Rabat,” Varadkar said, speaking in advance of the summit. 

Although we do not agree on everything, this summit will provide an important opportunity for open dialogue on how we can enhance the Euro-Arab partnership and take on regional challenges, including cooperation on migration, security and counter-terrorism.

Brexit talks

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to meet with EU leader Donald Tusk ahead of the summit today, but a Brexit breakthrough should not be expected, according to officials. 

Tusk did not meet May when she was in Brussels earlier the week for talks with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“There will be no deal in the desert in Sharm el-Sheikh, this is a summit between the EU and the Arab states,” an EU source told reporters in Brussels.

Another official said: “It’s an opportunity where everyone can talk, but don’t expect a deal there.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that “while Brexit is not on the agenda for the summit, the event will provide me with the opportunity to discuss the latest developments with many of my EU counterparts who will be in attendance”. 

With reporting by AFP

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