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EU, Jordan Plan More Trade, Talk

November 24, 1997

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The European Union and Jordan agreed Monday to open up trade and develop talks on political issues, particularly the Middle East peace process.

The agreement, signed during an EU foreign ministers meeting, is aimed at progressively setting up a free-trade zone between Jordan and the 15-nation bloc, said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jacques Poos, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Crown Prince Hassan, who was in Brussels for the signing, stressed the importance of closer cultural ties between the two regions.

Middle Eastern culture ``is not well-known in Europe,″ he said. ``It is reduced to a dogma, to the image of an impoverished Islam turned inwards.″

The vice president of the EU executive agency, Manuel Marin, said the EU had committed a total of $133 million to Jordan for the 1996-98 period.

An additional $11.4 million was earmarked for food and humanitarian aid and to support the the Middle East peace process.

The EU has signed similar association accords with Morocco, Tunisia and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Negotiations are under way for agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, and Algeria.

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