GENERAL AFFAIRS AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS
COUNCIL: EXTRAORDINARY MEETINGS, AUGUST 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister
for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
Extraordinary meetings of the General Affairs
and External Relations Council (GAERC) took place on 1 and 25
August in Brussels. The Foreign Secretary represented the UK on
1 August. I did so on 25 August.
On 1 August the Council discussed the situation
in the Middle East and adopted Conclusions: expressing utmost
concern at the Lebanese and Israeli civilian casualties and human
suffering, the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure,
and the increased number of internally displaced persons following
the escalation of violence.
The Conclusions called on all parties to do
everything possible to protect civilian populations and to refrain
from action in violation of international humanitarian law.
The Council also called for an immediate cessation
of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable cease-fire. In
this context, the Council expressed full support for UN efforts
to define a political framework for a lasting solution agreed
by all parties, as a necessary precondition for deployment of
an international force.
The Council deplored the continuing violence
in Gaza and the West Bank that has led to an equally distressing
humanitarian situation and reiterated its call for the parties
to return to the peace process on the basis of the Roadmap.
On 25 August the Council discussed Lebanon,
Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Council discussed Lebanon in the presence
of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with Partners offering up to
7,000 personnel and a range of air, sea and specialist assets
to the deployment of UNIFIL +.
The Council adopted Conclusions: expressing
full support for the UN Secretary General's efforts in implementing
Resolution 1701; welcoming Partners' willingness to contribute
rapidly to the reinforcement of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim
Force in Lebanon); while stressing UNIFIL's important role in
assisting with the deployment of the Lebanese Army to Southern
The Conclusions also reiterated the EU's determination
to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Lebanon.
The High Representative briefed the Council
on Iran's response to the E3+3's offer. This was discussed further
at the Informal Gymnich meeting of Foreign Ministers on 1-2 September
in Lappenranta, Finland.
The Council adopted Conclusions condemning the
recent violence and calling on President Kabila and Vice-President
Bemba to show restraint in the run-up to the second round of elections.
The Conclusions also underlined the EU's commitment
to ensuring the smooth conduct of the electoral process as shown
by the role of the EUFOR RD Congo force, supporting MONUC (United
Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) in restoring
calm in Kinshasa.
4 September 2006