EU still committed to Middle East zone free of WMDs

The European Union is as committed as ever to establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, an EU high representative said on Monday.

Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made the statement on Monday in view of the 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She reiterated that the EU first expressed its commitment to a Middle East zone free of WMDs in 1995.

"I would like to reiterate that the EU has been committed to establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction ever since the Barcelona Declaration of 1995," Ashton said. "It remains a strategic priority of the European Union to support peace and stability in the entire Middle East."

Ashton said she was regretful that the scheduled 2012 conference to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East was postponed. She called on the states to work together to prepare a successful conference that would establish such a zone.

"Today, the EU continues to fully support the on-going preparations for a successful conference and in particular the tireless efforts of its facilitator, Ambassador Laajava of Finland, and his team, to lay the groundwork in this respect," Ashton said. "I therefore call on all states in the region to urgently and proactively engage with the facilitator and the conveners with the aim of enabling the conference to be convened as soon as possible this year, on the basis of arrangements freely entered into between the states of the region."