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26/04/2017 - 21:56hs

Arab ambassadors salute Tunisian foreign minister

The council of Brazilian-based diplomats welcomed Tunisia’s minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui at its first meeting in the new Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce headquarters.

São Paulo – The Tunisian minister of Foreign Affairs, Khemaies Jhinaoui, met early this Wednesday evening (26) with the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Brazil. He was welcomed to the new headquarters of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo by diplomats from 14 countries that have diplomatic representations in Brasília and from the League of Arab States. Jhinaoui is on an official visit to Brazil. He will meet on Thursday (27) with president Michel Temer in the federal capital.

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From left to right, the Qatari ambassador, Jhinaoui, Alzeben, and Soltani: sharing opinions

“We have the habit of meeting with illustrious visitors to share opinions and become aware of what is going on [in their countries],” explained the Council’s dean and Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Alzeben. This was the first meeting of the collegiate diplomatic body at the new Arab Brazilian Chamber headquarters – which, like the old one, is located on Avenida Paulista, a city landmark – and the dean described it as “historic.”

“I would like to thank the minister for attending our opening. It was a happy coincidence that he had the Joint Commission meeting on schedule for the 27th, and so he was able to be here with us,” said Arab Brazilian Chamber president Rubens Hannun.

One of the reasons of Jhinaoui’s visit is a session of the Brazil-Tunisia Joint Commission in Brasília, one day after the opening of the Chamber’s new facilities. “This is not my home, this is our home,” Hannun told the diplomats. The Arab Chamber dubs itself the “home of Arabs in Brazil.”

Alzeben also told the foreign minister that his visit is “very important” to Arab diplomats and to Brazil. “Brazil is a friendly country and it needs a visit from someone such as yourself,” he stressed. “This is helpful to Tunisia, but it is also very helpful in increasing Brazil’s ties with all Arab countries, as well as their ties with all of Latin America,” he said. As a representative of Palestine, the dean acknowledged the support that Tunisia and the other Arab nations have given to the Palestinian people.

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Hannun (L) and Jhinaoui: the Arab Brazilian Chamber is our home

Jhinaoui, on the other hand, said that “it is a pleasure to be a minister in the new Tunisia,” referring to the democratic transition process that the country went through beginning in 2011. “We consider Brazil a brotherly country which always embraced the causes of Tunisia and which is home to a huge population of Arab origin,” he said. 

He thanked the support lent by the Arab Chamber during his visit. The Foreign Minister came to Brazil with a delegation of business owners and representatives from different Tunisian government bodies that, in the last two days, had a busy schedule in São Paulo focused on trade and investments. “Since I arrived the Chamber helped a lot, not only me, but the whole delegation,” he said. 

Jhinaoui joked that he “lent” Hannun to the other Arab countries when the executive took his post as president of the organization, prior to which he was the honorary council of Tunisia in São Paulo. 

The Foreign Minister talked about the Brazil-Tunisia Economic Forum, which took place this Wednesday morning at the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp) and which he called “fantastic”, and mentioned that there was a “good number of Tunisian and Brazilian business executives in attendance.” 

In Brasília

Sergio Tomisaki/ANBA

The group had its first meeting in the new Arab Brazilian Chamber headquarters

He also said that he will meet with Michel Temer this Thursday. “And he’s a friend of the Arabs,” said the minister, mentioning the Arab origins of the president, who is the son of Lebanese parents. “I want to show him a clear view of what is going on currently in Tunisia, that everything is on the right track,” he said. “We went through difficult times, but we overcame, our government is strong and democratic, and we are carrying out the reforms, not only political but also economic,” he pointed out. 

Jhinaoui thanked the ambassadors for the meeting. “Tunisia doesn’t forget its friends”, he said.

Also in the meeting were the ambassadors of Tunisia, Mohamed Hedi Soltani, of Morocco, Nabil Adghoghi, of Iraq, Arshad Esmaeel, of Egypt, Alaaeldin Roushdy, of Libya, Khaled Dahan, of Kuwait, Ayadah Alsaidi, of Qatar, Mohammed Al Hayki, of Lebanon, Joseph Sayah, of Jordan, Malek Twal, of Algeria, Toufik Dahmani, of Sudan, Ahmed Elsiddig, of Mauritania, Wagen Abdoulaye, of Oman, Amad Al Abri, of the Arab League, Nacer Alem, the business chargé d’affaires of Saudi Arabia, Soliman Al Aqeel, and the CEO of the Arab Brazilian Chamber, Michel Alaby.

Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum & Sérgio Kakitani

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