Leaders arrive for 5+5 meeting

The leaders of the 10 countries which border the Western Mediterranean have started arriving at the Auberge de Castille for the opening of the 5+5 summit.

Each of them is being greeted outside the main door by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at the Auberge de Castille.Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at the Auberge de Castille.

Most, including Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, have travelled to Castille straight from the airport, amid tight security.

They will be joined by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The Arab League is also being represented.

Traffic in the area has been banned and people are being kept well away.

Dr Gonzi greets Italian Prime Minister Monti.Dr Gonzi greets Italian Prime Minister Monti.

The official cars are being directed by soldiers in white ceremonial uniforms, with another two soldiers saluting the guests on either side of the main door of the auberge.

The President of the Libyan Congress, Mohamed Magarief, is greeted by Dr Gonzi.The President of the Libyan Congress, Mohamed Magarief, is greeted by Dr Gonzi.

The opening ceremony will be held in the courtyard of Auberge de Castille but most of the meetings will be held at Verdala Palace.

The conference, the first between west Mediterranean Heads of State since the Arab Spring last year, is expected to issue a fresh call for a Syrian government transition and a stop to the killing in that country.

The situation in Syria will be among the subjects to be discussed and the final declaration is also expected to encourage further democratic reform in the north African states.

Dr Gonzi will also be having meetings with French president Francois Hollande, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti, the president of the General Congress of Libya Mohamed Magarief and the Prime Minister of Portugal Pedro Passos Coelho.

After the opening ceremony, which was followed by a working lunch, the leaders went to the Upper Barrakka Gardens where they were treated to an eight-gun salute.


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