Arabs still Negotiating EuroMed Conference Presence
Negotiations over the attendance of Arab countries at next week's Euro-Mediterranean (EuroMed) conference in Marseille with Israel were still going on Saturday with host country France, Arab officials said in Doha.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara told journalists he was in contact with his French opposite number Hubert Vedrine to brief him on discussions by Arab foreign ministers in Qatar.
"All Arab EuroMed members will take part in the Marseille summit and will submit to their European partners a resolution defending the Intifada and the Palestinian cause," an Arab diplomat told AFP Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Arab foreign ministers, who have been in talks here for two days amid preparations for the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit starting Sunday, want to be sure that "a strong resolution" on the Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, will be adopted by the EuroMed meeting.
Syria and Lebanon had both backed postponing next week's conference because of the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which they said would make a meeting with the Israelis "extremely difficult."
They also referred to a resolution taken at the Arab summit in October calling for an end to all multilateral meetings that include Israel.
"EuroMed is a different forum than multilateral negotiations and consequently the Arab summit's resolutions do not apply to this forum," said a member of one Arab delegation involved in talks.
An Arab minister had said Thursday that most foreign ministers from EuroMed's Arab members were set to boycott EuroMed because of Israel's participation. The only exception was Morocco.
The European Union said Tuesday that the conference, set for November 15-16, would go ahead despite the calls for a delay by Damascus and Beirut.
The European-Mediterranean Partnership was created in Barcelona in November 1995, bringing together 27 countries and territories from around the Mediterranean.
Its goals are to define a common area of peace and stability, build an area of shared economic prosperity and bring people together through social and cultural means – DOHA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)