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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 13:21 GMT
Greece plans Iraq emergency summit
UK's Tony Blair (l), US' George W Bush (c), France's Jacques Chirac (r)
Split down the middle: Bush's plans have divided Europe
Greece has invited the European Union's 15 divided heads of government to an emergency summit on the Iraq crisis.

The summit could take place in Athens or Brussels as early as next week.

"Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis decided to take the initiative for these meetings at the beginnning of next week, Monday, to look into our moves after the Blix [weapons inspections] report," said Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

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Conflict with Iraq : Where Europe stands

Greece, which holds the EU's revolving presidency, has been wrestling with attempts to draw the bitterly-divided union together.

Europe's divisions were highlighted by a declaration of support for the US, signed by the UK's Tony Blair and seven other European leaders.

Greece, which is in Europe's anti-war camp, did not sign the declaration and was angry that it was not even consulted about it. Prime Minister Costas Simitis said it did nothing to contribute to a common approach on Iraq.

Summit expectations

The Greeks back France and Germany, which have headed attempts within the EU to steer the US and UK away from war.

George Papandreou
Papandreou has task of papering over Europe's cracks
But EU members Spain, Italy, Portugal and Denmark signed the letter, which urged Europe and the United States to stand together to rid the world of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The European Commission confirmed last week that Greece was trying to arrange the summit. A spokesman said at the time that it would make sense only if there was a clear understanding of what it could achieve.

Correspondents say failing to hold the summit could have been seen as a signal that the rift within Europe was too wide to heal, but it remains to be seen what it can achieve.

Some countries were thought to favour a foreign ministers' meeting, rather than a full-blown summit. It is thought the leaders could meet on Monday afternoon, after a morning session involving their foreign ministers.


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10 Feb 03 | Europe
10 Feb 03 | Europe
30 Jan 03 | Europe
04 Feb 03 | Europe
04 Feb 03 | Europe
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
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