The summit for South American and Arab countries, which will take place in May, in BrasÀlia, has as an objective to join efforts between the two regions to face the development challenges.
“The summit is a creative idea that looks to the future and should be a reason for joy,” said Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, April 4, after a meeting with the secretary general of the League of Arab States, Amr Mussa, at the Itamaraty, the Brazilian foreign office.
According to the two diplomats, there is no reason for other countries outside the two blocs to be worried about the event’s aims.
“When you increase the space for dialogue, the space for democracy in the world is also increased,” declared the Brazilian Minister.
“The conference will deal with cooperation between the two regions, with positive topics for the well-being of the people, it will not be against anyone,” added Mussa.
Amorim went beyond and called the event “Summit of Hope”. For him, the event will be “historic” to the point of being remembered, in the future, by historians as a great happening in the field of international relations.
“We changed a lot here in South America in the last 20 years, we changed for the best. The Arab world is also ready to change. The more the peoples talk amongst themselves, the more they learn. This is of great importance and it is this way that we work,” he declared.
In this sense, both Amorim and Mussa stated that, even before happening, the summit has already produced concrete effects in what concerns the increase in trade and cooperation in other areas.
“President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s initiative to organize this conference truly strengthened the relations between the two regions,” said the Arab League secretary general.
“The changes in the relationships between Arabs and South Americans have already started to materialize and will be driven even further by the declaration of the leaders who will be here in Brasília,” added Amorim.
The Brazilian Foreign Minister said that there already is a consensus among the 34 countries involved about the proposal for the summit’s final declarations.
It only has to be sent to the heads of government and state. Mussa added that the preparation for the meeting is being “quite solid”. “I trust the event will be very successful and will have great attendance,” declared Amorim.
One of the topics to be part of the agenda for the meeting is the trade agreements negotiated by the two regions. The Arab League launched, in the beginning of the year, the process for the formation of an Arab Free Trade Area. In the South American side, the South American Community of Nations was recently created.
At the same time, the Mercosur, the Common Market of the South (customs union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) is negotiating agreements with Egypt and with Morocco and should give start to a similar procedure with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The first contact between the negotiators for the Mercosur and the GCC should begin just before the summit. Amorim plans on calling representatives of other South American countries to participate in the meeting as observers.
“This may be useful to already start expanding the matter to the whole South American community,” he said.
During the luncheon offered by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, of which the president of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB), Antonio Sarkis Jr. also participated, Amorim, at a request by President Lula, decorated Amr Mussa with the Order of the Southern Cross, which is the most important distinction granted by the Brazilian government.
“(The distinction was awarded) considering not only the important work he has historically carried out for peace in the world, but in a more specific manner due to his role in the success of the preparation and granted success of this summit,” said Amorim.
Translated by Silvia Lindsey
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency