WTO: No plans to change venue of conference due in Qatar
A visiting official of the World Trade Organization denied Sunday, October 21, any change in the venue of a key WTO conference officially due to be held in the Qatari capital November 9-13. "There has never been any (plan) for a change (in the venue)," WTO Director of Administrative Services Jacques Emile Chabert told AFP.
"There are just rumors, that's all," he said, referring to reports that the venue will be switched for security reasons due to the world turmoil since the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. Chabert, who heads a WTO delegation visiting Qatar since Friday to oversees conference preparations, said: "The instructions that I have are to finalize preparations for this conference."
He said that "technically-speaking, it is impossible to organize a conference (elsewhere) within three weeks." "The choice of the venue of the conference has been taken by our general council unanimously. Changing it would require a consensus among member states, but there is no problem about it now," he said.
He said that one of the members of his delegation, "a computer engineer, will remain in Doha until the conference takes place." Asked about Saturday's arrival in Doha of WTO Director General Mike Moore, Chabert said it was "a routine visit." "This visit could have taken place a bit earlier, but he has a very busy schedule and so he seized the occasion to come," he said.
Earlier Sunday, Moore met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and was expected to hold talks with Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassam Al-Thani on Monday. The discussions cover preparations for the WTO ministerial conference.
In Shanghai, Asia-Pacific leaders on Sunday urged the launch of a new round of WTO negotiations, but made no mention of the venue. WTO director-general designate Supachai Panitchpakdi on Saturday said the body should confirm Qatar as host of its ministerial meeting next month.
"We have to make sure we go ahead and hold the meeting in Qatar. We should not have second thoughts," Supachai said on the sidelines of annual talks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
Qatar's envoy to the United Nations, Nasser Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Nasr, insisted Friday the conference should be held in Doha, as "Qatar is among the safest countries in the world." "Qatar has also acquired great experience in the organization of international conferences," said Nasr, warning that transfer of the meeting would constitute "a big victory for the terrorists."
The European Union and the United States said this week the choice of Qatar as host was under review because of security concerns. Singapore and Geneva were being considered as alternative venues. ― (AFP, Doha)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)