Jordan to attend WTO conference in Qatar with Israeli presence
Jordan will attend a World Trade Organization (WTO) conference in Doha, which Israel is also expected to attend, regardless of any Arab decision, Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said on Monday, July 16.
"We are members of the WTO and we will attend this conference as members of the WTO regardless of who is going to participate in it," Abu Ragheb said during a meeting with members of the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Amman.
"Some Arab states have their own agenda and it is up to them. They have their own sovereignty, they decide whatever they want. But we are going," Abu Ragheb said when asked if Jordan would link its participation to an Arab League decision.
Jordan is the second Arab country after Egypt to have a peace treaty with Israel although ties between them have been cool since the start of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September. Since then Jordan has appointed a new ambassador to the Jewish state but frozen his departure to Israel to protest Israel's handling of the intifada.
But Amman has no qualms about Israeli presence at the forum scheduled to take place November 9-13. "We go to the United Nations and Israel is there, we go to many conference and there is Israel there," Abu Ragheb said.
A senior Qatari official said Friday that Israel will take part in the WTO meeting. "Qatar is not empowered to say who is and who is not taking part in the conference," said Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal Al-Thani, who heads the Qatari committee helping to organize the conference.
Qatar has frozen ties with the Jewish state, whose trade office in Doha was closed down last November on the eve of an Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit there amid criticism from other Arab and Islamic countries.
"I hope the conference will not be politicized because it is an economic forum," Sheikh Hamad said, stressing that Qatar "adopts an automatic position in favor of the Palestinian cause." ― (AFP, Amman)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)