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EU Adopts Proposal to Establish Trilateral Dialogue with Africa, China

Foreign ministers from the European Union (EU)'s 27 member states adopted on Monday a proposal by the bloc's executive branch to establish a mechanism of dialogue and cooperation to promote peace and security among the EU, Africa and China.

The proposal, put forward by the European Commission (EC), aims to promote peace and security and contribute to efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa, according to a document released at the end of the meeting.

The foreign ministers agreed that Africa is a strategic partner of the EU within the framework of the Action Plan adopted at the 2007 Lisbon Africa/EU Summit and that China is also playing an increasing role in Africa and offers new prospects for the economic development of the African continent, the document said.

The document added that important commitments were made by China and Africa in November 2006 within the framework provided by the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Thus, "it would seem advantageous to coordinate the EU's and China's efforts more closely around priorities which reflect Africa's needs," the document said.

The foreign ministers considered that establishing a trilateral dialogue, following on from the initiatives taken since the 2006 EU-China Summit, "will strengthen the EU's bilateral partnerships with both China and Africa, including the African Union, by enabling common interests and areas for cooperation to be identified."

They urged this cooperation to be developed within the framework of a joint approach and be implemented by initiatives in the sectors of peace, security and sustainable economic and social development in Africa.

The EC's proposal on trilateral cooperation includes initiatives in the sectors of peace and security in Africa, support for African infrastructure, sustainable management of the environment and natural resources and agriculture and food security.

It said that particular attention should be given to cooperation in the area of peace and security where the EU and China can contribute together to the stability of African countries and to strengthening Africa's crisis management capabilities.

It would stress the desirability of a common approach to improve the effectiveness of official development assistance and prevent crises of high indebtedness, taking account of the Paris declaration and the Accra Action Plan.

"The Council urges Africa and China to cooperate with the EU in establishing trilateral dialogue and cooperation," the document added.

(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2008)

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