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Malta hosts first Europe-Arab summit in a decade

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm •  Published: October 5, 2012
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VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Terrorism, lawlessness, immigration and the European debt crisis were all discussed Friday at the first Mediterranean summit since the Arab Spring uprisings.

On the sideline of the summit, French President Francois Hollande said it was up to Spain, not the European Union, to determine whether Spain requires financial assistance from Europe to solve its serious financial difficulties.

The summit on the island of Malta was originally scheduled for 2011 but was postponed because of the dramatic political changes in North Africa. The 5+5 summit, which brings together five European nations and five North African states — Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Algeria and Morocco — comes to an end Saturday.

Malta's Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi opened the summit stressing the long-term interests of the democratization process in the Arab world.

"There is much work to be done in laying the foundations for a new Mediterranean partnership," Gonzi told journalists.

Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Coelho met afterward to discuss the eurozone crisis. Asked whether the EU is prepared to help Spain, Hollande said it's up to Spain to decide first what it needs to do.

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