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EU foreign ministers to discuss Mideast, Syria, Mali

BRUSSELS: The 27 foreign ministers will consider Israel s plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The country also intends to press ahead with two other projects that would drive a wedge between east Jerusalem, the Palestinians  desired capital of a future state, and the West Bank.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday: “I expect the entire EU will be strongly opposed to that,” Hague said on his way into the meeting.

The EU views such settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The 27 EU foreign ministers will also consider the crisis in Syria, where tens of thousands of people have died. Hague said foreign ministers would be briefed by Mouaz al-Khatib, a moderate cleric who heads the new, Western-backed opposition coalition in Syria. Hard-line Islamist groups in the country have not joined the new coalition, however, and al-Khatib is expected to inform the EU ministers about attempts to unify the Syrian opposition.

The coalition is seeking greater international recognition. The EU does not offer formal diplomatic recognition that is left to the individual member countries but it has said that the coalition is a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The foreign ministers will also evaluate plans to send a noncombat EU military training force to Mali, where the government has lost control of the northern part of the country to Islamist groups.

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