Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, whose country is seeking membership in the European Union, will make the opening speech at an informal EU foreign ministers' meeting next month in Austria, an official said Tuesday. The March 10-11 meeting in Salzburg , to debate religion and culture, among other topics, follows violent rallies over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers. The protests, which have swept the Muslim world, have left at least 45 people dead over the past month.
The EU has urged better dialogue between the Muslim world and the West over respect and tolerance, and has said it would like Turkey , the only Islamic majority country applying to join the 25-nation bloc, to play the role of a mediator. "The topic to be discussed ... is the need for a dialogue between civilizations, religions. In this framework, Gul was invited by (Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula) Plassnik to give the opening remarks," said Nikola Doning, spokesman for the Austrian EU presidency.
Gul also will attend a meeting with Plassnik, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Vienna on March 8, Doning said. Austria holds the rotating EU presidency in the first half of the year, reports the AP.
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Eyewitnesses said that explosions could be heard in the centre of Kyiv. Smoke was seen rising above Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv International Airport)