Greater cooperation in the commercial, cultural, political, and scientific-technological spheres will be the main themes of the South America/Arab countries Summit to be held in BrasÀlia next month.
The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, and the secretary-general of the League of Arab States, Ambassador Amr Mussa, met April4 for another round of summit preparations and emphasized that relations between the two regions are growing increasingly intense.
According to Amorim, the value of trade between Brazil and the Arab countries grew 50% in 2004, from US$ 5.2 billion to US$ 8 billion.
This is the first time the two regions are meeting to discuss such a wide variety of themes. The Brazilian Chancellor classified the encounter as a “truly historical event.”
Amorim recalled important moments in relations among developing countries, such as in the decade of the 1950’s, when the political context marking meetings between African and Asian countries was very different from what it is now .
“The sense of the meetings then was quite different; it was to discuss their geopolitical posture towards the world, a world that was divided. But the world has changed. This meeting is mostly directed towards cooperation and dialogue between the two regions,” he underscored.
Ambassador Mussa said that the conference is on behalf of two of the world’s very important economic areas, which are are cultivating ties of friendship . He also affirmed that the Middle East question may crop up during May’s summit meeting.
Indeed, both Mussa and Amorim declared that the joint communiqué that will be issued at the encounter of heads of state of the two regions will deal with two topics, which are on the international docket: terrorism and the Middle East peace process.
Both Amorim and Mussa ruled out the possibility that May’s summit could be interpreted as a political attack on Israel. “The conference is to approximate two groups, two large regions, two very important economies in the world,” the Arab Ambassador remarked.
The Brazilian Chancellor recalled that the Arab countries are aware of Brazil’s position regarding relations between Israel and Palestine.
“Brazil maintains good relations with Israel. And, regarding the Palestine issue, Brazil wants there to be a solution guaranteeing a Palestinian state that is economically viable and respectful of human dignity, in a context of regional peace for all states in the region,” he said.
As for the position taken by both sides opposing the presence of observers at the May summit, rejecting a suggestion made by the United States, Amorim commented that the meeting is solely and exclusively to discuss cooperation between the two regions in various spheres.
“It is a meeting of two regions, which will discuss mutual cooperation. A great deal of what will go on will be public, so that whoever wants to can turn on the TV and watch,” he explained.
Translation: David Silberstein