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Germany

Germany to Dodge Syria at Weekend Meeting in Paris

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will avoid holding official talks with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad when they meet at a Euro-Mediterranean summit in Paris at the weekend, according to officials in Berlin.

Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses a conference

The German chancellor is reportedly going to be keeping out of President Assad's way

The German government has long been of the opinion that Damascus is intervening "unconstructively" in Lebanon and has called for Syria to formally recognize Lebanon.

Sunday's meeting in Paris is to establish the Union for the Mediterranean, a new club of some 40 countries including EU members, north African states and Middle East nations such as Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Amnesty International expressed concern on Friday, July 11, that the EU's project does not make cooperation and dialogue with its southern neighbours dependent on progress on human rights. The leading human rights watchdog complained that the bloc was defining better ties purely on commercial and financial terms.

The union is a pet project of French President Nicholas Sarkozy. His country currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member European Union.

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