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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Ashton chaired EU meeting on Haïti

Lady Ashton, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief,chaired an emergency meeting of EU ministers on Monday on humanitarian aid for Haiti, devastated by an earthquake that has killed tens of thousands of people.It was Lady Ashton’s first session in charge since EU governments selected her for the post of foreign policy high representative in November in succession to Javier Solana of Spain. Her appointment, which remains subject to approval from the European parliament, forms part of a reorganisation of the EU’s foreign policy machinery.Under the EU’s Lisbon treaty, which came into force in December and is designed to strengthen the EU’s voice in the world, the remit of the foreign affairs councils to be chaired by Lady Ashton has been broadened to cover not only traditional diplomatic and security issues but trade and development. Monday’s council session on Haiti brought therefore together development ministers from the 27-nation bloc rather than foreign ministers.The European Commission has already approved €3m in funds for the international rescue effort in Haiti, and countries such as France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK have sent help in the form of search and rescue teams, field hospitals, water purification systems, tents and medicines. Lady Ashton told reporters that she had been in contact with Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, over how to address the crisis. But she said she had no immediate plans to travel to Haiti.Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, called for an international donors’ conference to speed up Haiti’s recovery from Tuesday’s earthquake.

Source: Financial Times