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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
EU and Africa meet on trade
The European Union will seek closer trade links and greater co-operation in the fight against terrorism when it meets African foreign ministers in Brussels next week
European Union leaders are meeting with presidents of African countries in Brussels to discuss trade and development at the start of a two-day summit.

European Commission president Romano Prodi and Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt are among those meeting a delegation which includes South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo.

Trade, the global economic slowdown and conflict prevention are on the agenda, with African foreign ministers expected to meet their counterparts on Thursday.

This week's meetings take place ahead of the next EU-African summit in Lisbon and is a follow-up to last year's first-ever summit, which gathered the leaders of 67 nations in Cairo.

Economic boost?

Improving Africa's poor economic and social conditions topped the agenda on that occasion.

The New Africa Initiative (NAI), an economic program adopted last July by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), is likely to be on the agenda this time.

The NAI aims to boost African economies and lay the groundwork for sustainable development.

Sharing knowledge

Another big issue will be intelligence sharing on suspected terrorists, and co-operation to block money laundering and terrorist finances - along the lines of recent agreements between the EU and Russia.

"The conference is a good opportunity to intensify the political dialogue with the whole continent of Africa," the European Commission said in a statement.

The EU continues to be Africa's biggest foreign aid donor.

It recently signed an aid and trade package with the ACP group of 77 African, Carribean and Pacific nations.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Shirin Wheeler
"The plan has been well received by EU leaders"
See also:

03 Sep 01 | Europe
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10 Jul 01 | Africa
Ivorian gets top Africa job
13 Jul 01 | Africa
Nigeria to work with EU in Africa
29 May 01 | Business
West urged to lift African imports
28 Apr 01 | Africa
EU warns Zimbabwe over threats
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