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Gaddafi to boycott opening summit

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in a recent meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in a recent meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi has harshly criticised the proposed Mediterranean Union - a new partnership between the EU and its Mediterranean neighbours - adding he had no plans to attend the opening summit meeting to be called by the French EU Presidency on July 13 in Paris.

Speaking at a mini-Arab summit in Tripoli, attended by the Presidents of Algeria, Syria, Tunisia and Mauritania and the Prime Minister of Morocco, Col Gaddafi said the Mediterranean Union is a one-way traffic initiative which Libya has no intention of following.

According to AFP news agency, Col Gaddafi said: "We are neither hungry nor dogs to be thrown bones".

During his speech, the Libyan leader passed sarcastic remarks at French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been forced to water down his initial plan in order to make it acceptable to the EU.

"The EU is taking care of its unity and the initiative of our dear friend Sarkozy was firmly rejected by Europe. The Arab League similarly will not accept its unity to be destroyed," he said.

"If Europe wants to cooperate with us, they can do it with the Arab League or the African Union, and we will never allow Arab or African unity to be undermined," he added.

The Union for the Mediterranean was doomed to failure, like the Barcelona Process or the neighborhood policy that the EU maintains with countries south of the Mediterranean, but in which Libya has never been fully involved.

Col Gaddafi's stand is the second critical signal in the past week from the Arab world showing that the Mediterranean partners are not fully satisfied with the EU's Med Union plans.

Earlier this week, some Arab countries requested clarifications from the EU over a number of issues relating to the new EU-Mediterranean structure. One of the dividing issues is the presence of Israel in the organisation as Arab states are not comfortable sitting on the same table with the Jewish state.

Other issues concerning the Arab states involve the administrative structures, financing and the decision-making process of the Mediterranean Union. Diplomats said that Arab states fear that Brussels will dominate the decision-making process as already happened with the stalled Barcelona Euro-Med process. EU leaders meeting in Brussels during their quarterly summit meeting next week are expected to decide on the way forward of the new Mediterranean Union.

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