Egypt, Jordan to Attend WTO Conference in Qatar Despite Israeli Presence
Egypt and Jordan have notified Qatar that they will be taking part in the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) conference, which Israel is also expected to attend, said reports.
According to Israel Radio, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher explained that it was an international meeting, and that the Arab League decision to veto any meeting in which Israel took part did not include international gatherings.
For its part, Jordan said it would attend the meeting regardless of any Arab decision.
"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," Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said during a meeting with members of the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Amman, according to AFP.
"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 signed a peace treaty with Israel, although ties between them have been cool since the start of the Palestinian Intifada 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 would 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." - Albawaba.com
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