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EU’s Ashton Won’t Attend Friends of Syria Meeting in Istanbul

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton won’t attend the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul on April 1.

“She won’t be attending because of agenda reasons,” Michael Mann, the EU foreign affairs spokesman, told reporters today in Brussels. “We will send a high-ranking member of the External Action Service to replace her.”

Mann said the EU is “very pleased that the Syrian regime has apparently decided to follow” the peace plan put forward by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan.

“But what’s important for us is that this is really put into practice,” he said. “In the past, we’ve seen that they were prepared to do things but that they didn’t actually do at the end of the day. So we want the Syrians to follow Mr. Annan’s plan in realty to reduce violence. We will monitor the situation.”

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jones Hayden in Brussels at jhayden1@bloomberg.net

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