Friday 22 March 2019

Taoiseach in Egypt to attend first ever EU-Arab League Summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May is among almost 50 leaders attending the Sharm El-Sheikh event

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has travelled to Egypt to attend the first ever EU-Arab League Summit (Tom Honan/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has travelled to Egypt to attend the first ever EU-Arab League Summit (Tom Honan/PA)

By Michelle Devane, Press Association  

The Taoiseach is set to meet EU leaders in Egypt today as the Brexit deadline date looms ever closer.

Leo Varadkar has travelled to Egypt to take part in the first ever EU-Arab League summit in Sharm El-Sheikh.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will be attendance.

Ireland has strong links with a number of Arab League states, through trade, our peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East and our significant expat communities in the Gulf Leo Varadkar

She is expected to hold talks with leaders as she battles to break the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking ahead of the summit, the Taoiseach said Brexit was not on the agenda but the event would provide him with the opportunity to discuss the latest developments with many of his EU counterparts.

The leaders are expected to discuss regional peace and stability, migration, human rights, counter-terrorism, trade, economic development and climate action.

The event is being co-chaired by EU Council President Donald Tusk and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Representatives of 28 EU member states and 21 members of the Arab League will be in attending the two-day event.

Mr Varadkar said: “While Brexit is not on the agenda for the summit, the event will provide me with the opportunity to discuss latest developments with many of my EU counterparts who will be in attendance.”

Mr Varadkar will make a formal statement during the plenary sessions in which he is expected to take the opportunity to highlight Ireland’s priorities on a range of foreign policy issues.

He said: “This is the first time that leaders from EU member states and the Arab League have come together in this format to discuss shared priorities.

“Ireland has strong links with a number of Arab League states, through trade, our peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East and our significant expat communities in the Gulf. Also, we will soon open new embassies in Amman and Rabat.

“Although we do not agree on everything, this summit will provide an important opportunity for open dialogue on how we can enhance the Euro-Arab partnership and take on regional challenges, including cooperation on migration, security and counter-terrorism.”

Press Association

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