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A Taboo Word at Brazil’s Arab Summit: Democracy

The Summit of South American-Arab Countries held in Brazil was not restricted to economic issues as was expected. Heads of State or Government also included the political agenda in the meeting’s final document.

Opinions not openly stated in the document text, were voiced during hall and hotel lobby interviews.


Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah, for example, demands immediate freedom for Palestine.


“How can we discuss trading with an occupied Arab country? The Palestinian issue must be solved and must be in the core of discussions,” he defends.


The crisis between Palestine and Israel leaves several South American countries in a delicate situation, since the region keeps good diplomatic relations with Israel.


But there are also issues that bring discomfort to Arab countries when mentioned by South Americans, for example, some type of government in the Middle East.


The President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, said that the Summit brought not only progress in the commercial arena, but it has also allowed South Americans to defend the strengthening of democracy in the world.


“We want the Middle East to find the way to peace. And if this part of the world can do something for it, we will do it in a constructive way,” stated Toledo.


According to him, the visits scheduled to Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan in the next months, represent a Summit’s positive result.


In order not to offend Arab sensibilities references to democracy were scrapped brom the Brasí­lia Declaration, the final document of the Arab Summit.


The words only appear when referring to the UN and elections in Iraq. To compensate for this oversight, in his closing speech, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva exalted the virtues of democracy.


ABr

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