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Call to secure EU-Gulf free trade deal

Times of Malta

Call to secure EU-Gulf free trade deal

10 May 2007

Foreign Minister Michael Frendo has urged the successful conclusion of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

He said such a deal would signify "a new plateau in our relations and would be illustrative of a higher and deeper level of engagement between the European and Arab world. Our destinies are tied together and the FTA will be an expression of these ties between our peoples."

Dr Frendo was speaking at the 17th EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Dr Frendo said the conclusion of an FTA is an example of a dialogue that is firmly grounded in practical and tangible action which is meaningful to the lives of our citizens. "Our cooperation", he emphasised, "is illustrative of the politics of moderation where economic, social, cultural, and trade exchanges are drivers of political engagement".

The meeting was co-chaired by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier and by Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

Foreign ministers of EU and Gulf states took part in the meeting together with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero Waldner and the European Commissioner for Trade Peter Mandelson.

Dr Frendo flew to Riyadh together with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos on the Spanish Foreign Minister’s private jet. Mr Moratinos’ jet landed in Malta where it picked up Dr Frendo and flew to Saudi Arabia.