On heels of Middle East trip, Solana touts challenges facing region
On Tuesday, March 20, H.E. Javier Solana visited the German Marshall Fund of the United States to discuss challenges facing the transatlantic community in the Middle East. Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, was recently back from a three-nation tour of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Syria.
He expressed excitement over recent and upcoming developments in the region, such as the Iraq security conference and the March 28 Arab League Summit, but also concern and appreciation for the depth and complexity of the region's troubles. He urged his support for Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and detailed the difficulty Siniora faces in reconciling the current political impasse in Lebanon.
In light of his meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in Riyadh, Solana recognized a shift in Saudi foreign policy toward a more active role in regional peacemaking. He cited the Kingdom's assistance in the creation of a Palestinian government of national unity, its support for the Lebanese Prime Minister, and its proactive attempts at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
Solana, whose recent trip to Syria marked the first time a senior EU official has visited Syria since the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri, pointed to the positive, if limited, outcome of the recent Iraq security conference as a hopeful sign of Syria's intention to play a constructive role in the region.