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Words in the News
Wednesday 19 March 2003
EU Iraq meeting
Flags European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels to prepare for what looks likely to be a difficult summit meeting of EU leaders later this week. This report from our Europe correspondent, Chris Morris.
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There is a real sense of gloom and frustration in Brussels. The EU has been split asunder by the diplomatic divisions on Iraq. There is, said the external relations commissioner, Chris Patten, a lot of broken crockery on the floor, and we're going to have to work hard to put the pieces together again. The EU has done that before, many times, but as one senior official admitted, this is the most serious set of foreign policy differences we've ever had.

What's worse is that it's the biggest and most important EU countries which are at daggers drawn. If the EU is to form any kind of coherent common foreign policy, it needs France and Britain singing from the same song sheet. But their disagreements about Iraq are well-documented and increasingly angry.

The foreign ministers meeting here have found some common ground; they've agreed that the EU will provide emergency humanitarian aid to Iraq if war begins. But there's far less consensus on how much the EU might be willing to pay towards reconstruction in a post-war phase, now that it's clear that a conflict will not have United Nations approval.

The political fallout of a war in Iraq will haunt Europe for some time.

Chris Morris, BBC News, Brussels.

Listen Listen to the words
split asunder
if something is split asunder, it is separated violently into two or more parts
plates, cups, saucers (an image suggesting that people have argued violently, throwing plates on the floor and smashing them)
at daggers drawn
being so hostile, like two enemies who are about to fight with knives
if something is coherent, it is clear and easy to understand
singing from the same song sheet
to be in complete agreement, as if singing the same song
are well-documented
have been published widely
common ground
areas of agreement
general agreement among a group of people
in a post-war phase
in the period after a war
here, disagreement; fallout is the radiation that affects an area after a nuclear explosion; if you fall out with someone, you have an argument and stop being friendly
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