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EU Foreign Ministers Agree Message for Next US President

The EU's foreign ministers met on Monday to agree on a joint message for the winner of the US presidential election, including how best to strengthen transatlantic ties.

US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama

No matter who wins, the EU expects a more balanced relationship in future

The bloc's foreign ministers envisage a partnership of equals to meet key challenges such as the financial crisis and peace in the Middle East, said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the EU presidency.

"The world has changed because we have realized that a great country, which will remain a great country, is not the only one concerned by the world's problems," he told reporters in the southern French city of Marseille.

"The European Union has become more resolute," Kouchner said.

Arriving for the talks, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, said that creating such a partnership would demand much from the EU member states.

"This isn't just about asking America to do things," he told reporters. "It's about Europe stepping up as well."

He said Europe was confident it could work with the new administration in Washington -- whether under Republican candidate John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama --

to shape "an inclusive global agenda that responds to the changing economic and social and political times."

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also echoed the view that future relations with Washington should reflect Europe's growing leadership in global affairs.

"We want to have an even stronger relationship with the United States, and for that reason I think it's important that we say what we think is important for us," she said. "I think it should be a more balanced relationship."

Crisis in DRC also on agenda

A displaced child returns to the ruins of a hut that was destroyed last week during fighting at a camp for displaced people which was evacuated in Kibumba

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands

Kouchner and Miliband were also set to brief their fellow foreign ministers on their weekend trip to Kinshasa and Kigali to try and negotiate an end to unrest in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The EU is considering sending a military humanitarian mission to support the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, where rebel fighting has displaced an estimated 250,000 people.

"The world's political leaders are determined to make sure there's no repeat of the murderous activities of the 1990s," said Miliband, referring to the genocide in Rwanda and civil war in eastern Congo.

He said ministers were waiting for a UN special envoy to the country to report back to the Security Council on the situation before deciding to mobilize an EU military mission.

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