French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have quietly sketched in the contours of a counter-plan to vie with the “Greater Middle East Initiative” that US President George W. Bush wants to unveil at the NATO summit in Istanbul in June.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Europe report exclusively that Chirac, Schroeder and Blair will announce their endorsement of Bush’s plan, provided he reciprocates by accepting theirs.
However, the troika’s counter-move has a sting in its tail. It calls for the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian conflicts to be resolved before the Greater Middle East program goes into effect, or at least as a parallel project. Full European Union membership is also offered to “select” Middle East countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, while the Bush blueprint proposes only NATO membership. Under certain conditions both offers would apply to Israel.
The three European leaders intend thrusting their master-plan before any forum at which Bush introduces his initiative. In fact, they may try to bring the double presentations forward by persuading the White house to call the G-8 foreign ministers together to discuss amalgamating the EU and US plans for presentation as an integrated entity to the June summit of the world’s eight leading industrialized nations at Sea Island, Georgia, USA.
The Europeans have warned Washington that without these preparatory talks, the summit could be doomed to failure.