New Mediterranean Union Eyes Mideast Peace
'Gesture of peace' launches new 43-nation group
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2008 7:15 AM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni Sarkozy attend a formal dinner after the Mediterranean Summit meeting.    (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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(Newser) – The inaugural meeting yesterday of the Union of the Mediterranean, which brought together the 27 EU countries and their neighbors to the south, kicked off discussions about a number of mutual projects. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy used it as an opportunity to flex some diplomatic muscle by bringing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of isolation and by hosting a sit-down between Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We are certain that a new page will open in this cooperation that will lead us toward more peace," said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who co-chaired the summit with Sarkozy.The 43-member union brings together some 756 million people from Greenland to Jordan; goals also include developing solar energy and combating pollution in the Mediterranean, reports AFP.