Sarkozy to host Arab and Israeli leaders at launch of 'club Med'

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The Independent Online

President Nicolas Sarkozy will host some of the Middle East's most powerful leaders tomorrow at the launch of his Mediterranean Union project. Arab leaders, including the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, will sit in the same room as the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert for the event.

Just after he was elected, M. Sarkozy outlined his plan for a "great dream of peace and a great dream of civilisation" among all countries with a Mediterranean coastline.

But his idea of an EU-funded club that did not include EU states without a Mediterranean coast angered Germany in particular. All EU members have now been invited to the meeting.

Critics of the plan say the idea has been so watered down that they expect little to be achieved. France's plans were scaled back, dropping proposals for a "Mediterranean investment bank" and EU-style ministerial meetings.