Arabs, South Americans want strategic partnership
The final declaration of the 4th Summit of South American-Arab Countries stresses the need to ‘undertake new, systematic efforts’ in order to bring ties between the regions involved to the next level.
Riyadh – The final declaration of the 4th Summit of South American-Arab Countries (Aspa), which closed this Wednesday afternoon (11th) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, champions the building of a strategic partnership between the two regions. The document states that leaders of the 34 countries involved find it important to “undertake new, systematic efforts in order to build a strategic partnership;” they also agree to implement an action plan designed to facilitate a coordinated regional position on international issues, as well as support the creation of cooperation programs in various areas.
To this end, governments from the two blocs pledge to “enhance the current political dialogue” and champion the setting of cooperation targets in “high-priority” areas such as healthcare, education, poverty reduction, environment, climate change, energy, water resource management, food security and unemployment.
The goal is to broaden ties between the regions and foster sustainable development by devising “mechanisms and projects that will make an effective contribution towards” meeting these targets. The document reaffirms the countries’ commitment to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The means to fulfilling said commitment include enhancing technology transfer programs and increasing trade and investment flows, particularly in foodstuffs, energy, innovation, infrastructure, tourism, industry, and information technologies.
Regarding trade, the leaders stress the “positive results of the 4th South American-Arab Countries Business Forum,” held on Nov. 8th in Riyadh, “in a bid to strengthen economic cooperation between the two regions.” Speaking at a press conference following the Summit, the Brazilian foreign minister Mauro Vieira acknowledged the work of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce in organizing the forum alongside the Council of Saudi Chambers.
The declaration calls on Aspa member countries to “encourage the public and private sectors” to invest in maritime connectivity between the regions. “Trade will be affected in a positive way,” Vieira said regarding the idea to set up joint ventures in logistics and transportation, which was discussed at the forum.
The document also hails the growth of South America-Arab trade since the first Aspa Summit took place in 2005, with the caveat that “there are still untapped possibilities that would allow greater growth and diversification in trade and investments.”
On another economics-related note, it claims Argentina has “importantly not allowed vulture funds to curtail the debt restructuring efforts of developing countries.”
The document imparts special attention to conflict resolution, security and anti-terrorist action, which are relevant subjects to Arab countries. The countries reaffirm “the right of all peoples to live in a nuclear weapon-free world” and the need to reach a fair, lasting peace between Israel and Palestine based on the principle of exchanging “land for peace,” upholding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and reaching a two-state solution based on 1967 borders. The government leaders also demand that Israel ends its occupation and removes all settlements from Palestinian territories.
The leaders condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” and rejected “any attempt to associate terrorism with specific religions, cultures or ethnic groups.” The declaration affirms the States’ commitment to preventing any and all direct or indirect assistance to groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Syria’s al-Nusra Front or Al-Qaeda.
The Aspa countries also pledge their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and champion a political solution to the conflict that has plagued the country since 2011. They make similar considerations about Libya and Yemen, and support the welcoming of refugees, as well as the funding of humanitarian actions.
The Aspa Summit lauded Tunisia’s transition to democracy amid post-Arab Spring conflicts, and highlighted the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the quartet of Tunisian civil society organizations that worked on the transition and on building national reconciliation.
At the press conference, the Saudi minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir stated that the declaration covers a wide range of topics of interest of the two regions. “It is a historic document,” he said, “and it has been adopted unanimously,” he added. The summit’s closing ceremony was presided over by the Saudi king Salman Bin Abdulaziz.
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum