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Gulf | Qatar

Qatar seeks solidarity as Arab summit host

Decision on Syria and support for Palestinian cause high on agenda

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 13:49 March 21, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: Qatar’s cabinet has welcomed the hosting of the 24th Arab League summit in Doha later this month.

“The Qatari government hopes that the Doha summit, to be held in highly critical conditions and [amid] enormous challenges, will contribute to reinforcing joint Arab action for the sake of the Arab nation,” Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, the deputy prime minister and cabinet affairs minister, said following a weekly meeting.

The summit is scheduled for March 26 and 27 in Doha, one year after the historic summit in Baghdad. The conference is expected to witness the Arab League handing over Damascus’ seat to the opposition. Syria was suspended from the 22-member organisation in November 2011 over the government’s violent crackdown on anti-regime rebels.

“This will be a highly significant summit for the Palestinians because it will be the first after the United Nations voted to recognise Palestine as an observer state and after the formation of a new Israeli government that plans to continue its colony policies,” Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official, said.

“President Mahmoud Abbas will raise at the summit the sufferings of the Palestinian people as well as the challenges they are facing. He will also highlight the latest developments in the peace process as well as its requirements. The Palestinians are confident that the Doha summit will reinforce the Palestinian reconciliation and will boost the chances to end colonies, release prisoners and end the Judaisation of Al Quds,” Erekat said in remarks published by Qatar News Agency (QNA).

In Amman, Sameeh Al Moayta, the state minister for media affairs and communication, culture minister and spokesperson for the government, expressed hope that the summit would “give a new impetus to joint Arab action.”

“The dynamism is particularly important regarding the major issues two years after the Arab world moved into the Arab Spring phase,” he said, quoted by QNA. “High on the summit agenda will be the Syrian crisis now in its third year with its critical toll of violence, victims and refugees,” he said.

Jordan, Syria’s neighbour to the south, is struggling under the burden of around 450,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war. Around 140,000 are accommodated at the Zaatari camp, 80 kilometres north of Amman and near the Jordan-Syria borders. The remaining 310,00 refugees are sponsored by relatives and live among them or on their own means in other Jordanian towns.

In remarks published by the Qatari official news agency, Somalia’s President Hassan Shaikh Mahmoud said that the summit would be an opportunity to highlight the situation in his country.

“We look forward to a summit that is interested in Somalia and that supports the country,” he said.

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