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A panel discussion on working together to promote Arab and Latin American mutual interests was a part of the agenda of the Arab-Latin American Forum, at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
A panel discussion on working together to promote Arab and Latin American mutual interests was a part of the agenda of the Arab-Latin American Forum, at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National

Dialogue is key to Arab and Latino partnership, Abu Dhabi forum hears

Latin American political heavyweights stress the need for teamwork if the two regions are to have a real effect on world organisations.

ABU DHABI //Latin American and Arab governments need to increase political dialogue in order to gain more ground within the international community, senior politicians said yesterday.

Speaking at the Arab-Latin American Forum (Arla) in the capital yesterday, the former minister of foreign affairs for Brazil, Francisco Rezek, the former foreign minister of Argentina, Jorge Taiana, and the former Guatemalan president, Vinicio Cerezo, all called for stronger political interactions between Arab and Latin American governments.

"We need to work together at different international organisations around the world as Latin American and Arab leaders," Mr Cerezo said on the sidelines of the Arla forum. "The Arab world and Latin America are currently booming and are in a strong position. While the US and Europe are suffering from the recession, our economic and political wills should be together," he said.

Echoing his calls, Mr Taiana said that both the Arab world and Latin America are in the middle of a critical period.

"Change is not only happening quickly in the economic field for us both, but on the political stage as well, and we have to engage [with] each other more frequently," he said.

Mr Taiana said that the economic power shift is happening across the globe, from the US and Europe to Asia and the Arab World.

"An effective partnership between Asia, the Arab world and Latin America would be sustainable and will grow," he said.

He also said that the partnership could shift the balance within organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations if these countries engaged more frequently and aligned their goals.

"We should coordinate our positions when we talk to the WTO about subjects like food security and climate change, [if we are] to have a real effect," he said.

Mr Rezek emphasised that political relations were the most important for maintaining future ties. He said that this was needed to balance the weight of power at the UN.

Participants at the forum called for the immediate creation of a Council on Arab Relations with Latin America and the Caribbean to conceptualise, direct and facilitate further development of an Arab-Latin American partnership.

A statement called "The Abu Dhabi Declaration" called for the Council to consist of 20 recognised and highly qualified leaders from both regions.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, was nominated to be the Honorary Chairman of the Council while Dr. Leonel Fernández, a former president of the Dominican Republic, was nominated to serve as Council Chair.

The Council is called upon to serve as a hub for institutionalising programmes designed to promote an enhanced Arab-Latin American partnership and to bring the two regions closer together at every level.

amustafa@thenational.ae

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