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Europe

EU Buoyant as G-8 Prepares to Unveil Middle East Plan

Brussels is claiming a major diplomatic victory as a U.S. initiative to reform the Middle East takes on a European flavor at this week's G-8 summit.

Key demands from the European Union appear to have been met in the latest draft of a joint G-8 plan to reform and democratize the Middle East. The text, drafted by the United States, which currently chairs the G8, is set to be unveiled during the summit at Sea Island, Georgia, which begins on June 8. During the months of negotiations leading up to the summit, the EU had voiced concerns that the original draft imposed reform from the outside and that a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict did not play a big enough role. A lukewarm reception to a leaked version of the document earlier this year from Arab states helped to cement the need for the group of the world's most industrialized countries to reform the text.

"I think we have managed to shape it in a way that is very much in line with our own ideas," a senior EU diplomat said in the run-up to the summit. Brussels is keen to emphasize that the plan is not being imposed from the outside, and that there is no "one size fits all approach."

The text now focuses on assisting civil society as well as dealing with governments, negating the dependency the original policy would have had on the will of regimes in the region. The current plan addresses issues of governance, democracy, rule of law, human rights, respect of minorities, rights of women, education and economic potential, according to diplomats. (EUobserver.com)

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