May 16, 2005
LATIN AMERICA-ARAB SUMMIT IN BRASILIA 'PAVES WAY FOR OPPORTUNITIES'
** A first with "good participation" from "22 Arab League members and 12 Latam countries."
** Summit attendees envisioned trade blocs less reliant on Europe, the U.S. and Japan.
** The Arab world may be distant, "but has old migratory ties with Latin America."
** "The South-South summit" advances Brazil, "the most important nation in the region."
South American and Arab leaders hold their 'first summit in Brasilia'-- Media noted that Brazil's Lula da Silva and Algeria's Bouteflika co-chaired the "first Arab-Latin America Summit" in Brazil May 9-10 with the "next summit" for "Morocco in 2008." Within both Latin and Mideast media, outlets split over its significance as skeptical writers said, "South America gained nothing" in this "encounter with the Arab world"; still, others noted its "success" for "resistance to a unipolar world," and for "expressing new world realities." Indonesia's independent Kompas asserted, "countries in many regions...are trying to join blocs to make them more influential."
'Strengthening South-South bonds' between regions 'with more than .5 billion people'-- Citing the summit's "predominantly economic goal," Caracas's liberal El Nacional noted "Arab food imports exceed $150 billion annually," paving a way for Mercosur to benefit. The UAE's expat-oriented Gulf Today joined Qatar's semi-offical Gulf Times citing, Uruguay has rice; Bolivia wants petro-dollars to develop its tin mines; and Brazil wants to expand its defense industry. Accordingly, observers projected South American trade with GCC members could surpass current trade between Brazil and Arab countries which exceeded "$8.1 billion in 2004."
Building cooperation after '150 years...of Arab emigration' to Latin America-- Algier's ENTV said Brasilia would "strengthen economic, trade, social and cultural cooperation," while Brazil's business-oriented Valor Economica declared, "good political relations can open doors to good trade relations." A UAE outlet stated, "geographically far apart," still some "17 million Arabs...live in Latin America," and "share strong cultural links." A Costa Rican viewed recent Latam actions as a "delicate...demonstration of [Latam] autonomy against the U.S." and Mexico's business-oriented El Financiero scored Mexico's recent OAS SYG setback, "tensions with Cuba, loss of leadership with Venezuela" and "its exclusion from the hemispheric negotiations with the Arab nations" as influential diplomatic reversals.
Advancing Brazil's bid for a 'permanent UNSC seat' and regional leadership-- Latam regional media agreed the summit was "Lula's Show," in part designed to promote "wide support for Brazil’s nomination as a member of the UN Security Council." Liberal Folha de S. Paulo posited, "Brazil must not act as an office of U.S. and European interests" while Chile's financial Diario Financiero opined that "Lula’s call on Chavez to moderate his stance regarding the United States" demonstrated a yen for "regional leadership, something that irks Argentina." Argentina's liberal Buenos Aires Herald noted President Kirchner's view the summit would "inject Middle East conflicts into Latin America" as Arabs and Latins join "against enemies--the United States and Israel--offering each other broad support.”
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 27 reports from 15 countries from May 6-13, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed by the most recent date.
RUSSIA: "Brazilia-Cairo-Ramallah Axis"
Anton Ivanitskiy opined in reformist Gazeta (5/13): “The United States and Israel did not hide their concern over the Brasilia meeting. The leaders of Middle Eastern, North African and Latin American countries got together to consider the future of Iraq and Israeli-Palestinian relations. What initially appeared to be an unlikely and diverse group of countries from regions located far from each other has transformed into a community of political regimes willing to join hands against enemies--the United States and Israel--offering each other broad support.”
WEST BANK: "Beginning Of A Crisis With Washington"
Hasan Al-Batal wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (5/7): “The Palestinians don’t have the slightest indication...of a ‘disengagement’ between the American and Israeli views on the independent Palestinian state and the destiny of settlement blocs. The weak American position about the separation wall is repeating itself with regard to settlement blocs, and even worse about Sharon’s perspective on a transitional Palestinian state in a timeframe that exceeds the 2008 American agenda after we went past the 2005 one. Despite his very busy schedule, President Abbas has the time to arrange a presidential tour in Latin America and Asia; meanwhile a trip to Washington and a meeting with Sharon can wait till the ‘right time.’ A growing crisis with Sharon could be the harbinger of a crisis with Washington.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Arab-Latin Summit"
The pro-government English-language Arab News commented (5/13): "Half-a-century ago, countries that were neither in the West’s orbit or the Communist camp decided to meet at the Indonesian city of Bandung to shape their own destiny, one that would be independent of both Moscow and Washington. It was the birth of the Non-Aligned Movement--although it was not quite as non-aligned as intended: Cuba and China managed to attend. In fact, the idea never quite managed to work in practice. The world remained dominated, politically and economically, by the superpowers. However, the end of the Cold War, the staggering economic growth of so many countries that once were dismissed by the West with barely disguised contempt as 'Third World' or 'undeveloped', and the emergence of powerful regional blocs have revived something of the idea. There are now regular meetings of regional blocs to see how they can work together, economically and even politically, to their own advantage. There have been Arab-European, European-Asian summits--and last week saw the first Arab-Latin American summit, meeting in Brazil, involving 34 countries from the two regions. It is in both sides’ interests to develop closer relations.... Latin America has developed high-tech skills and industries that will find ready markets in the Arab world as will its agricultural produce. But Latin America is also energy-hungry and a ready market for Arab oil and downstream petrochemicals. The two also have other common interests, not just a desire to see the elimination of the subsidies that allow European and American farmers to destroy the livelihoods of their counterparts elsewhere in the world. In an increasingly global economy, both want to avoid domination by the multinationals.... Developing business relations between the Arab world and South America will provide an invaluable balance to both regions’ over-dependence on Europe, the U.S. and Japan for imports and expertise. A couple of years ago, Saudi economists proposed that the Kingdom develop new economic partnerships in place of those with existing traditional partners in Europe, the U.S. and the Far East. One of the suggestions was Brazil, seen as an economic powerhouse of the future. Clearly the idea has taken root. Neither that suggestion, nor the summit means that Arab states are going to turn their backs on existing partners. They will not. This summit is about spreading the opportunities, minimizing the risks. It makes sound political and economic sense.
"A Promising Beginning For The Developing Countries"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazirah editorialized (5/10): "Today, in Brazil, a unique cooperative undertaking will come to life. There are no colonial objectives or controlling intentions. Therefore, a lot is expected of the summit.... Brazil has high expectations of this meeting; so do other developing countries.... The meeting will enhance the chances of cooperation not only in trade, but also in science and technology, fields that had been exclusive to big countries.... On the other hand, the summit will discuss political issues. The concluding statement criticizes Israel and expresses strong support for the Palestinians. The statement also condemns American sanctions on Syria and rejects occupation.
"The Powerless Countries’ Summit In The Face Of Tyranny "
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized (5/10): "Although the Arab-Latin summit is considered a summit of powerless countries, the U.S. and Israel did not give the countries a chance to conclude their summit. America wants the participant countries to serve the interests of other countries. Israel warned against any cooperation resulting from this summit that could condemn aggression, especially Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. In an atmosphere of warnings and threats, the summit of the powerless commences its session and search for an identity in a world has no place except for the powerful.... The powerless summit proves that nations who have will, can accomplish a lot."
"Common Goals And Interests"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (5/9): "The Arab-Latin summit aims to reinforce the economic, political, and cultural cooperation between the two regional blocs. This is the same goal that Arab countries had, and worked on achieving through regional bloc cooperation, and international communication. The question is whether all interested parties will be able to keep their part of the bargain and have a serious commitment to fulfill with their obligations. We remain hopeful that this summit will rise to the level of expectations and serve the mutual interests of both blocs."
ALGERIA: "President Bouteflika Co-Chairs First Arab-Latin America Summit"
Algiers ENTV Television in French commented ( Internet version 5/9): President Abdelaziz Bouteflika arrived this morning in Brasilia. Tomorrow, he is expected to co-chair, together with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the first Arab-Latin America summit. The summit will be preceded by a preparatory meeting of foreign ministers. Proposed by the Brazilian president, this summit intends to work to strengthen economic, trade, social and cultural cooperation between the two regional blocs. It also intends to bring about political consultation between them within international forums. The setting up of a cooperation mechanism at economic ministers' level would be decided on this occasion. South-South cooperation, peace process in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism would equally be raised during this summit which would bring together 22 Arab League members and the 12 Latin American countries.
QATAR: "Brasilia Summit Is Not An Anti-U.S. Gathering"
The semi-official Gulf Times expressed the view (5/11): "The first Arab-Latin American Summit started its work in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, yesterday, with HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani among those attending. The inaugural speech was delivered by the summit host, President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, who told the gathering that the great challenge was to design a new economic and trade geography for the world. The summit had a historic opportunity to lay the foundations of strong co-operation between South America and the Arab World, President Lula said. The summit is the first of its kind ever held and many Arab analysts regret that this new chapter in relations was not opened a decade or more ago, in view of the historic trade, political and cultural ties between the two areas. More than 34 nations are represented at Brasilia but the absence of most Arab heads of state has been a source of regret for the hosts, who are hoping for increased trade and investment opportunities. However, as it is the first such summit there should not be too much surprise if some states are not represented at the highest possible level. If this gathering proves successful, there may be stronger Arab representation at the next. The summit has provided the first opportunity for newly appointed Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to appear on the world stage and present his country’s case, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also taking part in the gathering to highlight his people’s cause. The six Gulf Cooperation Council states are scheduled to sign a framework agreement with the South American trade bloc, Mercosur, which comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, to pave the way for negotiations aimed at achieving free trade. Two-way trade between Brazil and Arab countries is already very significant, with exports and imports in balance at a total of $8.1bn in 2004. That is a solid foundation to build on. The summit is solely concerned with economic and trade relations and is not an anti-Israeli or anti-US event. However, Washington has viewed it negatively because of the participation of several South American figures who are at odds with the U.S., notably Fidel Castro of Cuba, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Lula himself, who is the architect of the summit. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim reminded Arab delegates ahead of the opening session of the strength of the ties between the two areas. Over the last 150 years there have been strong waves of Arab emigration to South America. Arabs and their descendants have risen to prominence in both business and politics--some even rising to become presidents of their new homelands. With such strong ties, the foundations exist for the 'alliance of civilisations' that Amorim called for. Building on the existing relationship can only be for the good, as it will highlight the benefits of co-operation and harmony between peoples of different faiths and backgrounds."
SYRIA: "Importance Of The Brazil Summit"
Ahmad Hamadeh, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote (5/11): "It is no secret that the Brazil summit will give a new momentum to the Latin American support of just Arab causes. Latin American countries have played a positive role in dealing with Arab rights. They supported the Palestinian people's struggle to obtain independence and restore usurped rights; they rejected the U.S. occupation of Iraq; they always called for an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied lands and demanded that Israel join the NPT and to subjugate Israeli nuclear installations for comprehensive surveillance by the Atomic Energy Agency. On a parallel level, Latin American states expressed deep anxiety about U.S. sanctions on Syria and heavily criticized the Syria Accountability Act considering it a dangerous violation of international law. Most importantly, Arabs and Latin Americans should establish a huge international bloc that convenes regular summits. They must not allow any attempt to foil, underestimate or confiscate the results of such an experience."
UAE: "Good Beginning"
The ex-patriate oriented English-language Gulf Today remarked (5/13): "The summit of Arab and South American countries in Brasilia was a modest attempt to evolve a new relationship between the two regions. It helped create awareness about the potential of trade and economic ties. It laid the foundation for the future. What is needed now is to strengthen political ties. The summit certainly provided a breakthrough in that direction. But more needs to be done for the dialogue to gain momentum. Summit host Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva deserves kudos. He brought together 34 developing countries under a unifying theme: Co-operation to achieve common goals of economic and social development. The presence of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas helped put the focus on the continuing conflict and instability in the region. This has heightened following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The leaders also reviewed the wider issue of the Middle East crisis perpetrated by Israel. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa rightly said that the summit marked the launch of a new movement. He compared it to the Non-Aligned Movement founded in 1955 to advance the interests of Africa, Latin America and Asia. The Brasilia initiative similarly put the development agenda back on South-South dialogue. The next summit in Morocco in 2008 would give leaders sufficient time for any course- correction. The summit declaration by the 12 south American and 22 Arab countries emphasised freer trade to benefit the poor. They wanted an end to inequalities by aiming at a new world order that would see an end to trade distortions and narrow the gap between the rich and poor countries. The World Trade Organisation can be an effective agent of change. The summit wanted a representative of the developing world to head the trade body. It backed Uruguayan Carlos Perz del Castillo for the top job against Frenchman Pascal Lamay. As Lula da Silva said the summit was a historic occasion for the two regions to come together. The initiation of talks on a free-trade area between the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council countries and the Mercosur bloc could unleash an economic torrent of trade and investment. The Arab League members and the South American nations saw several complementarities. Uruguay wants to sell more rice to Arabs, while Bolivia is seeking petro-dollars to develop its tin mines. Brazil's thriving defence industry hopes to become a major arms supplier to the Middle East. As GCC Secretary-General Abdel-Rahman Al Attiyah put it succinctly the two regions are a natural fit because there are about 10 million people of Arab descent living in South America. Moussa endorsed this view and said the two regions, with more than half a billion people, may be geographically far apart but they share strong cultural links that could facilitate further co-operation. Many believe that the present trade turnover could be doubled within three years once the political leadership prepares the two regions for closer economic ties. The Brasilia initiative is a good beginning.
INDONESIA: "Latin America-Arab Summit Paves Way For New Opportunities"
Leading independent daily Kompas noted (5/12): “The ways countries are trying to reduce U.S. influences is increasingly varied.... Countries in many regions are now seeking to form regional blocs. Finding that they are not strong enough, they are trying to join blocs to make them more influential. That is apparently what is in the minds of the South American and Arab leaders as they are holding their first summit in Brasilia, Brazil.... It is predicted that their declaration will show the determination of the two regions to cooperate in promoting their respective regions. In addition, they will build stronger political ties [so that] they will have a united voice in international forums.... The summit is happening just when the U.S. is aggressively pressuring Arab nations to open themselves more. In this context, the Arab-Latin America bloc might have new ground to voice their political stance. They will emphasize their respective regions. For the Arabs, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, and sanctions against Syria will become their main agenda in the declaration. And in their common declaration, the Latin Americans will definitely take the same position as the Arabs in demanding the Israelis pull out of Palestine.
ARGENTINA: "Vive La Différence?"
The liberal influential Buenos Aires Herald editorialized (Internet Version 5/12): “Explanations of Kirchner’s behaviour centre on economic or regional rivalries but his misgivings might just have arisen from the summit’s stated purpose, an encounter with the Arab world--largely ignored in local coverage. Perhaps Kirchner was reluctant to antagonize his Jewish constituency by staying throughout a summit which strayed beyond economic interaction to inject Middle East conflicts into Latin America with some anti-Israel resolutions (asserting Palestinian rights to self-determination and 'to resist foreign occupation' and calling for Israeli withdrawal from 'occupied territories'). If so, this highlights a dilemma facing Kirchner. On the one hand, Argentina’s precarious energy situation pressures him to humour such abundant sources of oil as the Arab world or Venezuela’s firebrand President Hugo Chávez, a stellar presence in Brasilia where an alliance between Venezuela’s PDVSA, Petrobras and Enarsa was sealed. Yet steering too close to Chávez or anti-Zionism could alienate Washington, which has been so helpful over Argentina’s debt problems. As for the economic and regional issues, it seems futile to pick a fight in areas where Brazil will not budge. Regarding Brazil’s quest of a permanent United Nations Security Council seat, Kirchner should be taken at his word when he disclaims any aspiration to regional leadership (he is too much the nationalist for any wider horizons)--why, then, be so obstinately against something to which Brazil is so strongly committed?
BRAZIL: "Neither Success Nor Failure In The Summit With Arabs"
Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized (5/13): “The South American-Arab Summit was a good start of trade rapprochement between nations of the two regions. In the economic area, the results were necessarily modest, but promising. In the political agenda, the joint declaration skidded in predictable traps. The GOB’s estimates to improve and deepen economic relations with the Arabs may be considered realistic.... There are doubts, however, on if the same goals wouldn’t be reached in a ministerial level meeting that limited the summit to its trade objectives and avoided risks of an undesirable political commitment for Brazil. The GOB believes that good political relations can open doors to good trade relations. Many have good reasons to think that the opposite is true. The policy adopted by Russia and China, which takes into consideration the U.S. unilateral power and pursues specific trade interests, even that such attitude contradicts U.S. interests, reinforces such a belief.... It is a mistake that Brazil does not devote equal efforts to the relations that really count either in the new or in the old trade geography--with the U.S. and the EU--and the priority given to the South-South relations is equivocal.”
The lead editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo remarked (5/12): “The South American-Arab nations Summit was a diplomatic bravado that added nothing to Brazil’s foreign policy. As expected, only a few business opportunities were opened amidst copious geopolitical rhetoric. Unfortunately, such rhetoric does not help Brazil’s relations with the nations of most import in the world. It does not seem an exaggeration to describe the summit as a large stage on which Brazil campaigned again for a permanent seat at the UN’s Security Council. The sensation is that once again the obstinate will to achieve that status disfigured positions that should be oriented by state policies.... It is obvious that Brazil must not act as an office of U.S. and European interests.... However, it sounds unlikely to think about a strategic alliance between South America and the Arab nations while there are no common goals uniting these two regions.... Brazil can and must support a Palestinian state. It can also recognize the right of populations under foreign occupation to use arms to recover sovereignty. What is unacceptable is an extensive and detailed document that does not make any explicit reference to the Israeli civilian victims of terrorist attacks and to Israel’s right to defend itself.”
"The Summit’s Final Result"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (5/12): “The final result of the South American and Arab Nations summit may be condensed in a few words: South America gained nothing, the Arab nations gained what they wanted--to use the meeting as a new stage to attack the U.S. and Israel. Brazil has only suffered losses... The international presence that the summit was to give to Brazil was in fact achieved, but due to reasons that no one can think were those that the GOB wanted. Because if they were, they would confirm a perversion of the Brazilian diplomacy on behalf of an adventurism that is openly harmful to national interests.... South American neighbors could only react with disagreement to such impertinent exercise of self-promotion translated into the pursuit at any cost of a seat at the UN’s Security Council. The meeting not only did not add anything valuable to Brazil’s diplomacy, but also showed to its main foreign interlocutors the embarassing role of messenger of Arab interests that Brazil performed.”
Eliana Cantanhede commented in Liberal Folha de S. Paulo (5/12): “Despite criticisms, fears and some mistakes, the South America-Arab Nations Summit achieved its goal: it brought to the U.S. backyard the discussion on Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and an evidence that there are resistances to a unipolar world. Brazil gained the right to organize and host a type of meeting that was once reserved only to nations such as the U.S., France, Germany and the UK. Lula had a day of statesmanship, even resorting to metaphors.... The Arabs are those who gained most…. They succeeded in obtaining a stage to defend their causes near the U.S. borders. Many of them are Washington’s friends, but the attacks against the occupation of Palestine and the tone against the invasion of Iraq have left no doubts regarding who the villains are.... What seemed to be excessive assumption, nearing ridicule, is beginning to make sense. Despite poverty and unstable regimes, developing nations in Asia, Africa and in the Americas now have common agendas and interests.... The summit in Brasilia does not change the world, but it serves as a warning to those who want to lead the world alone.”
MEXICO: "The Ominous Wall"
The editorial from the business-oriented El Financiero stated (5/12): "It is hard to understand how, during the four years of the current Fox administration, the historical prestige of our diplomacy, built during decades, could be dismantled. The incapacity to negotiate an immigration agreement in order to avert the construction of an ominous wall along the border, the friction created between indivisible neighbors, the disastrous finish at the OAS, the clumsiness that provokes tensions with Cuba, the loss of leadership with Venezuela and the exclusion from the Hemispheric negotiations with the Arab nations are but a small sample of the Mexican diplomatic debacle in a short period."
CHILE: "Latin America After Condoleezza’s Visit"
Rosendo Fraga of Argentine think tank Nueva Mayoria wrote in financial daily Diario Financiero (5/6): “In conclusion, Lula’s call on Chavez to moderate his stance regarding the United States shows that relations between that country and Brazil are going through a good moment, and that there is a degree of delegation in regional leadership, something that irks Argentina. Secretary Rice’s visit to Chile allowed President Lagos to persuade Washington to withdraw its support for the Mexican candidate to the OAS and for Chile to win the election for secretary general of that entity, her trip to Colombia shows a renewed support for Uribe just as Chavez strengthens his ties with Castro and seeks to influence other countries in the region, and her visit to El Salvador shows Washington is concerned with the sub-region just as the situation in Nicaragua becomes unstable.”
COSTA RICA: "America Before The U.S."
former communist Vladimir de la Cruz opined in Costa Rican centrist daily Al-Dia (5/10): “Finally the OAS named its General Secretary. During the process the U.S. promoted as their candidate El Salvador’s former president, Francisco Flores, absolutely subdued to their warrior policy and geopolitical interests in the region. [In the 2004 OAS election], The U.S. supported Flores against Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Costa Rica’s former President), but Rodriguez rounded up the Latin American countries and won the OAS Secretariat. Those political alliances were the first American diplomatic defeat in their attempt to impose the OAS General Secretary. Rodriguez was elected by consensus and acclamation, something that was not achieved before. Unsatisfied with this defeat, the U.S. charged Rodriguez facilitated the information that propelled his removal from office [on corruption charges]. Then the U.S. proposed again former president Flores, but once again they were defeated before continental support for Chile; they stopped supporting Mexico and pressed to make Mexico withdraw their candidature right before the elections. The U.S. Department of State tried to change diplomatic forces and policies before the OAS elections, with destabilizing political movements in Bolivia and Ecuador, and Condoleezza Rice’s round trip, but they couldn’t achieve their objective. Insulza’s election is a delicate protest and demonstration of autonomy of [Latin] America against the U.S.
PERU: "The Arab-Latin-American Summit"
Center-right, influential leading daily El Comercio editorialized (5/12): "With regard to the opening to the world and more possibilities of political and commercial integration, the Arab-Latin-American Summit held in Brazil has been acceptaby promising for Peru.... It is encouraging that bridges of dialogue and collaboration might be built with the Arab region which is very distant but has old migratory ties with South America. As expected, there has been a special emphasis on international political issues that refer to the fair claims of the Palestinian State, which make a common cause with Arab countries. The summit has also insisted on changes in the UN system. In both cases, the sense of equilibrium and respect for national sovereignty and international treaties should not be disregarded."
"Summit With Results"
Official gazette El Peruano stated in its lead editorial (5/12): "For Peruvians, the Brazilia Summit should be viewed from two perspectives: multilateral and bilateral. The first one covers the results from the point of view of the approach between Arab and Latin-American nations. We should not expect results [multilaterally], as the rhythm of international politics is slower and these issues should be viewed with an historical perspective. Peru is interested in being a protagonist of history marked by the democratization of the international order and the peaceful solution of controversies; in this regard it is important to highlight the support of the summit for Peru's candidacy for a Security Council seat in 2006-2007. However, Peruvians will perceive in the shorter term the advantages that come from closening the bilateral ties with Brazil, the most important nation in the region."
"The Arab-South-American Summit"
Pro-business daily Gestion commented on (5/12): "Yesterday countries that form the Arab-South-American League concluded their first summit, hopeful of having achieved a [closer relationship] between these two distant regions. Among the agreements reached, which are a part of the so-called 'Brazilia Statement,' the call to fight terrorism stands out. The extensive final document also included the rejection to foreign occupation and the rights of states to resist it, a statement which could be viewed as a polemic for its ambiguity."
VENEZUELA: "Iraq And The Summit In Brazil"
Leading liberal daily El Nacional (5/12) editorialized: “No one can deny Brazilian President’s success during this week in hosting the first Arab-South America Summit, with a good participation of heads of state from our region and high-ranking leaders from the Middle East, especially, from the Persian Gulf. It might be reasonable to wonder who came out as winners from this meeting. There’s no doubt that Iraq was one of the winners of the summit in Brasilia, because it received the recognition from a good number of nations from our region, among them Venezuela. President Chávez had to recognize Iraq’s current government, and it was a good decision. However, he reiterated his condemnations of the Iraqi war, but this stance is understandable for someone who has kept a line of strong opposition to the United States. This decision at the summit recognizes Iraqis’ great effort to restore democracy and sovereignty. Venezuela also demonstrates that it can use good sense to make rectifications. Lula asked for designing a new economic and commercial geography. The South is changing while the largest countries of the North seem to be paralyzed.”
Journalist Juan Páez Avila wrote in national daily tabloid Ultimas Noticias (5/12): “The Arab-South American Summit hosted by President Lula da Silva with a predominantly economic goal, will almost surely end with a wide support to Brazil’s nomination as a member of the UN Security Council. Brazil’s leadership in the world will be felt particularly in the area of commerce and of investments among developing economies but with immense possibilities of growth. First, Brazil ensures the supply of oil from diverse sources, both from Venezuela and the Middle East. A source of energy Brazil’s economy will increasingly demand over the next years. Petrobras has already started to explore and exploit oil fields in both regions, which own the largest world’s oil reserves. Venezuela could draw a great lesson from this summit if President Chávez realizes that our country needs more abilities to negotiate, both internally and abroad, than promoting debates on twentieth-century failed ideologies.”
"The South-South Summit"
The afternoon liberal daily tabloid Tal Cual (5/11): “When Brazil and India claim permanent positions on the United Nations Security Council, they are not incurring any excessive and arbitrary pretense, but are expressing new world realities, of which the powers of the developed universe will have to take note. And it is on those deep changes that have taken place since the sixty years elapsed from the end of the Second World War until today, that the Arab-South American summit held in Brazil on President Lula’s initiative concentrates. The importance of this summit is that it extends the way, not without contradictions and ups and downs, to new historic tendencies; among others, that of giving autonomous protagonism, and more and more decision to countries that still up to half century ago formed part of the colonial world, and that still today (including among them the South Americans), suffer the consequences of a political and economically asymmetrical relationship with the developed countries. But, as Lula maintained, they are strengthening South-South bonds not ‘to fight’ with the north, but to be able to have the necessary dialogue between the two hemispheres, and achieve the justness and the justice that are lacking today.”
"Arabs In Brasilia"
Leading liberal daily El Nacional editorialized (5/10): “The two-day summit of Arab and South American countries, conceived by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, starts today in Brasilia. Brazil expands its horizons without neglecting its relations with the United States or with the European Community. Old links between the Arab community and South America have been evoked, with the presence of millions of Arabs in Latin America. Venezuela is an example of how they have adapted and of their contributions to development. According to recent surveys, about 17 million Arabs or descendants live in Latin America. As an oil-producing country, Venezuela was the first nation to forge links with the Arab world through the OPEC, and it succeeded in getting its cooperation with the creation of the International Fund for the Agricultural Development, located in Rome. It is obvious that oil will be one of the main points in this summit’s agenda. The very high oil prices put some pressure on the large economies, but in the small ones, like those of Central America and the Caribbean, their effects are devastating, a situation that is used by those who are provoking destabilization in the regions. What makes Mercosur countries believe in this summit is that Arab food import figures exceed $150 billion annually. Through Petrobrás, Brazil opens ways for the exploration and drilling of crude oil in Arab countries. Venezuela will not be able to take advantage of this, because Pdvsa is, as we know, going through some problems. In short, the Arab-South America summit is a step in the intelligent direction, even though it should be taken with extreme caution.”
Foreign affairs expert Beatriz de Majo C. contended in leading liberal daily El Nacional (5/10): “The Arab-South American summit must serve to clarify to the whole world the role Brazil wants to play as a leading actor in the North-South political debate. It is also important for the Arab League to see what they can win if they focus on a promising region, headed by a large nation with solid and profitable relations with the Islamic world. Trade between both partners is beyond $8 billion. This summit has a strong economic tone…[and] the Summit will not concentrate on terrorism or democracy but rather on the ways to build bridges of trade and investment between both groups of countries. Oil will surely be one of the main topics in the agenda.”
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