x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Mahmoud Abbas and Tony Blair expected at UAE peace forum

The conference beginning on Friday will bring dignitaries from around the world to Abu Dhabi in a discussion of the challenges to regional security.

ABU DHABI // More than 20 leaders and foreign ministers, including Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE's Foreign Minister, and the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, will convene in the capital this week to discuss peace.

The first Sir Bani Yas Forum on Peace and Global Security will take place from Friday to Monday.

The UAE is organising the conference with the International Peace Institute, aiming to foster discussions on the "pivotal challenges that face peace and security in the Middle East region", WAM said.

Foreign ministers from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America will gather, along with international experts, to discuss "geographic and political challenges arising in the Middle East".

The UAE is taking a leading role in resolving the security challenges facing the region, said Sheikh Abdullah in a statement.

"The numerous challenges are taking a more complicated, global quality," he said.

There is also a "widening gap" between the difficulty of problems facing the world now and the ability of decision-making blocs around the world, he said.

"The United Arab Emirates lends its full support to finding solutions to the local problems facing the region," said Sheikh Abdullah, who will deliver the opening speech at the start of the forum.

Terje Rød-Larsen, the IPI's president, said in remarks published on WAM that the event would provide a "private environment" that would allow leaders to discuss the challenges facing the region.

The delegates will be addressed by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's president, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is the official envoy of The Quartet on the Middle East. The Quartet, made up of representatives from the UN, US, EU and Russia, is involved in mediating Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post website, will also give a speech.

The IPI is an independent, non-profit, international think tank based in New York "dedicated to promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts between and within states by strengthening international peace and security institutions", according to their website.