Oman will go to WTO meet in Doha despite Israeli presence
Oman will attend the World Trade Organization (WTO) conference in Doha in November even if Israel takes part as planned, a minister said Tuesday, July 24, brushing aside Arab boycott threats.
"The Sultanate of Oman will take part in the WTO conference as a member of the organization" since November 2000, said Yussef Bin Alawi, minister in charge of foreign affairs, in an interview published by the national press.
"The presence or absence of Israel at this conference is not a political problem," he said. "What difference is there when the WTO meets in Geneva and every one attends and when it meets in Qatar and some (countries) are absent?" he asked.
The head of Qatar's organizing committee for the November 9-13 conference, Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal Al-Thani, has confirmed that Israel will take part in the Doha meeting, despite the Palestinian uprising against the Jewish state. "We are going to meet in an Arab country and we should all support Qatar. The presence of Israel should not make us afraid," Alawi said.
Yemen's official weekly 26 September has announced that Sanaa will boycott the ministerial conference if Israel takes part. "It is rather difficult to take part in such a conference under such circumstances, especially while Israel wages a vile Zionist aggression and genocide against the Palestinian people," said the organ of the Yemeni army.
The Arab League, meanwhile, has called for a break in political contacts with Israel until it halts "aggression" against the Palestinians. Oman closed Israel's trade office in Muscat last year in protest at the bloodshed in the territories.
Alawi said Israel had carried out a policy U-turn from "a negotiating phase to that of war," and there was no longer any reason to allow the office to remain open. "Israel does not want peace ... but is trying to make the international community bend" to its will, said the minister.
"Israel will not be able to start a war," he predicted, "not because it does not have the military capacity to do so but because the big powers will never tolerate it." ― (AFP, Muscat)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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