Minister Cowen attends Meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers in Washington D.C.
Minister Cowen attended a meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers in Washington D.C. on 14 May, in his capacity as President of the EU Council of Ministers. The meeting was in preparation for the G8 Summit, taking place in Sea Island, Georgia from 8 to10 June, 2004, at which the Taoiseach and Commission President Prodi will represent the EU. Before their meeting, Minister Cowen and the G8 Foreign Ministers were invited to meet President Bush at the White House. President Bush took the opportunity to outline his hopes for a successful Sea Island Summit. During their subsequent meeting at the State Department, Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in Iraq, the Middle East Peace Process, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Haiti, as well as initiatives under preparation for the Sea Island Summit on a partnership for progress and reform with the region of the Middle East, and on expanding peacekeeping capabilities particularly in Africa. Following the meeting, Minister Cowen said: “ While the main focus of our meeting was to prepare for the Sea Island G8 Summit, discussion of the situation in Iraq was high on our agenda. I and a number of my colleagues underlined our particular concern about the abuse inflicted on Iraqi prisoners by members of the coalition forces, which are a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions and undermine the principles on which our democracies are founded. President Bush condemned these abuses in the strongest terms and outlined the actions being taken to deal with it. US Secretary of State Powell and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reported on work underway in New York in preparation for a new UN Security Council Resolution on Iraq. There was general agreement that the ideas being developed by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi should provide a good basis for the hand over of sovereignty envisaged for 30 June, and there was general support for the resolution setting out clearly an increased role for the UN going forward. All agreed that the earliest possible assumption of sovereignty by the people of Iraq would be the best guarantee for peace and stability in Iraq and the wider region . We also discussed developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The further bloodshed in Gaza in recent days underlined the importance of establishing a ceasefire and beginning the implementation of the roadmap, as agreed by the Quartet when we met in New York on 4 May. We also took stock of the preparations for the G8 Summit in Sea Island Georgia 8 to 10 June 2004. There was general agreement among Foreign Ministers that any initiative for reform in the region must be developed in partnership with the Governments and peoples there. This approach is consistent with the approach we have been pursuing as EU Presidency in developing our strategic partnership with the region. We also did good work on the initiative being developed to assist African countries in developing peacekeeping capacity, again in partnership with Africa. This is consistent with the priority the Irish Presidency has placed on conflict prevention and crisis management in Africa and the launch of the Africa Peace Facility, agreed under our Presidency, which provides 250 million euro for these purposes.” Note For Editors The G8 (Group of 8) is a forum for discussion and cooperation between the world’s major industrialised countries. The G8 are the United States, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Russia. The United States are currently in the Chair of the G8. The EU Commission usually attends G8 meetings, and EU Presidencies, when they are not G8 members in their own right, are invited to attend G8 Summits and some G8 Ministerial meetings. Foreign Minister Cowen, SG/HR Solana and Commissioner Patten represented the EU at today’s meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Commission President Romano Prodi will represent the EU at the G8 Summit in Sea Island on 8-10 June 2004. Top