The European Union will seek to forge closer links to Africa, including increased cooperation in trade issues and the fight against terrorism, at a meeting next week, the EU said Friday.
The foreign ministers' meeting, slated for Thursday, is meant as a follow-up to last year's first-ever Africa-EU summit, which gathered leaders of 67 nations in Cairo to discuss improving Africa's poor economic and social conditions.
The conference is a good opportunity to intensify the political dialogue with the whole continent of Africa, the EU's executive commission said in a statement.
The 15-nation bloc has been keen to step up efforts to combat terrorism both within its borders and with its partners.
At an EU-Russia summit Wednesday, the two sides said they would work together to block terrorist finances. The boosted cooperation also was to include sharing intelligence in areas including suspected terrorists, the use of false documents and movements of chemical, biological or nuclear material.
Similar cooperation has already been agreed to with the United States, following the terrorist attacks there last month.
The agenda also includes conflict prevention and cooperation in trade, as well as the fight against poverty. Both sides are also to focus on human rights and debt relief.
The EU continues to be Africa's largest aid donor, and recently signed a new aid and trade package with the so-called ACP group of 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific nations. The majority of members, among the poorest nations in the world, are in Africa.
The EU and its ACP partners signed a new five-year aid and trade pact in June that will see the 15-nation bloc pay 13.5 billion euros ($12.7 billion) in aid and trade support funds.
The EU has been eager to get African nations to sign up to a new world trade round slated to be launched at a World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 9-13.
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