WTO Head: Qatar Talks Delay Possible
The next round of world trade talks in Doha, Qatar, may have to be postponed following the terrorist attacks in the United States, the next World Trade Organization (WTO) head said Monday.
Thailand's former deputy prime minister Supachai Panitchpakdi said the talks, scheduled for November, could be postponed up to a month, reported AFP.
"If it's impossible to hold the meeting between November 9 and 13, we may change dates a bit but we shouldn't change the venue," he told a press conference in Washington.
Qatar has been making great efforts to ensure the security of all delegates, including tightening up visa requirements.
Asked whether he was suggesting the talks be postponed, Supachai replied: "If the countries so desire."
While the issue of postponing the ministerial conference had not been raised with the trade body's 142 members, "There have been some informal talks in this area," he said.
Supachai said even if the talks were postponed, the venue should not be changed.
"I think we have to have the understanding that the Qatar government has put all its effort into this very important event,"he told the agency.
"If we have to put up certain special arrangements, it's not insurmountable to do so," he said, adding he thought the talks should not be delayed more than a month.
Diplomatic sources have said the Gulf state would be a risky location for a gathering that would involve ministers from all over the world and include significant US and Israeli delegations, especially if tension increased in the Middle East after a US reprisal against those behind the attacks.
Delaying the Qatar talks could increase the chance of success this time, said Supachai, who takes over as WTO next year.
"If we need to do that, we'll be giving more time to work on the new round. It would grant a larger success likelihood for the launching of the round."
Supachai expressed confidence in the outcome of the Qatar talks despite the collapse of the Seattle meeting.
"After Seattle we've done a lot of confidence building, so much so that at this moment in time I think we are close to achieving our goals."
There was no Qatari reaction to Supachai’s remarks.
In a meeting of experts preparing for the conference from November 9 to 13, Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal Al Thani, the assistant undersecretary of finance, economy and trade, said that Sunday preparations for the meeting were in full swing, said the Gulf Times newspaper – Albawaba.com
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