By ANGELA CHARLTON – The Associated Press
PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the disparate and conflicted countries around the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday to make peace[…], as he launched an unprecedented Union for the Mediterranean.
Yet the summit did not mask all the divisions that crisscross the region: Syria’s President Bashar Assad left the enormous table before Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave his speech to the more than 40 leaders seated around it, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
It was the first time the two men had sat at the same table.
“The European and the Mediterranean dreams are inseparable,” Sarkozy told leaders from more than 40 nations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. “We will succeed together; we will fail together.”
Coping with age-old enmities involving their peoples and others along the Mediterranean shores will be a central challenge to the new union encompassing some 800 million people.
He [Sarkozy] insisted the new body would not be “north against south, not Europe against the rest … but united.”
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, co-presiding the summit with Sarkozy, said: “We are linked by a common destiny.”