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STAFF REPORTER PALMA

BRITAIN'S newly appointed European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has come under heavy criticism over the past few months, more recently for failing to have immediately visited Haiti in the wake of the earthquake and then for not attending the EU Defence Ministers' summit here in Palma which she was expected to have come to.

However, over the weekend, David Miliband, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs leapt to Ashton's defence during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Cordoba.

Miliband defended Ashton from criticism from fellow EU members who attacked her for missing an EU Defence Ministers' gathering in Palma and for planning to skip an EU-Morocco summit over the weekend in Granada.

She eventually attended.
Both decisions offended Spain, which as the EU's rotating presidency was tasked to chair the two meetings, and drew further fire from France, which had already chastised Ashton for not going to Haiti immediately after the January 12 quake - she visited on Wednesday. “I don't recognise those criticisms and I don't support them at all,” Miliband said in Cordoba.
He stressed that Ashton was right to go to Kiev instead of Palma as EU foreign ministers had stressed in their last meeting that “Ukraine was a priority”.