The League of Arab States' secretariat-general has set up a committee especially dedicated to the works for preparation of the 2nd Summit of Arab and South American Countries (Aspa), scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar, in April 2009.
"This committee is presided by the secretary general for political matters at the League of Arab States and the objective is to start preparing the "Doha Declaration". We are going to start putting on paper ideas that we would like to be discussed during the summit," said the head of the Latin America Department at the League, Ibrahim Mohieldin.
According to him, the Doha Declaration should include a series of topics. "Apart from reviewing the progress made since the Brasília Summit (in 2005) – recalling the accomplishments, ministerial meetings and their results -, the most important topics we plan to present will certainly be connected to the current global challenges," stated Mohieldin.
According to him, questions like the evolution of the global economy, the problems of the environment and the food crisis should be discussed in the meeting. "We have already had ministerial meetings in the economic, environmental and cultural areas. This time we are probably going to suggest a meeting of ministers of energy of both blocs.
"We would also like to suggest a ministerial meeting in the area of education. We can also not forget tourism between both regions, which is taking on more and more important dimensions," said Mohieldin, who added that the secretariat general at the League plans to propose the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the objective of promoting tourism.
This week, the closer ties with the South American countries were once again discussed in the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers meeting, whose 130th meeting ended on Monday, September 8, at the offices of the League, in Cairo. The foreign ministers expressed their enthusiasm with the rhythm of closer ties with the blocs.
"The ministers are impressed with the fact that this process, which is relatively recent, is advancing at great speed," stated the joint secretary general for political affairs at the League of Arab States, Ahmed Ben Helli.
According to Mohieldin, several Foreign Ministers, like Saudi Prince Seoud El Faysal, have shown interest in participating in the next summit, especially as it is going to take place in Qatar.
During the meeting in Cairo, dates were approved for a series of meetings between representatives of Arab and South American nations, which should take place in coming months, prior to the summit. The first should be a meeting of high-level employees of both blocs, to take place between October 24 and 27, in Doha. "We have already elaborated the minutes for this meeting, sent to our South America colleagues," said Mohieldin.
Arab foreign ministers are also positive with regard to the next summit of ministers in the area of water resources, to take place in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, on November 16 and 17. "This meeting was preceded by another, between sector specialists from both blocs, which took place in Recife, in August," stated Mohieldin.
The most recent novelty presented at the meeting of foreign ministers was the Brazilian initiative of receiving the second meeting of Arab and South American ministers of Culture, in March 2009. The first took place in Algiers in February 2006.
The meeting of the Council of Ministers of the League of Arab States covered around 26 themes, among them the situation in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Sudan.
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