Third Summit of South American and Arab Countries (ASPA) concluded

Posted on October 3, 2012

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S. American-Arab summit focuses on peace, cooperation
LIMA, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) — The Third Summit of South American and Arab Countries (ASPA) concluded here Tuesday, with a call for peaceful resolution of conflicts and more inter-regional cooperation.

Despite the geographical distance between the two regions, the two-day meeting served to highlight areas where participating nations could cooperate or complement each other in the realm of politics and trade.

The summit’s final document, the Lima Declaration, primarily condemns the use of force to resolve conflicts, an issue that both regions have struggled with, and calls for greater region-to-region cooperation.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, the summit’s host, presented the key points of the joint declaration, which also supported an Arab initiative to establish a nuke-free zone in the Middle East.

Participants also expressed their support for Palestine’s right to statehood, and condemned all forms of terrorism.

Humala said the summit served to “feature the economic, political and cultural factors that unite” countries in both regions, adding their common interests and values indicated a promising future lay ahead for bi-regional cooperation.

“We have shared expectations and hopes, as well as problems, such as poverty,” said Humala, but the meeting has shown that “distance is relative when leaders want to advance in a single direction.”

“The joint declaration is based on the concepts of peace, disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear arms, the peaceful solution to conflict, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and a rejection of all forms of terrorism,” he said.

The president said “our support for the right of the Palestinian people to independence and sovereignty” was included in those principles.

The ongoing Syrian crisis brought fighting in the region to the fore.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressed concern for the mounting pressure from Israel in favor of military intervention against Iran’s alleged nuclear-weapons program, though she did not mention Israel by name. Such a move could have dire consequences for the region and beyond, she suggested.

On economic issues, the nations agreed to promote sustainable development through the rational use of natural resources and greater South-South cooperation in trade, tourism and investment at every level.

A parallel CEO summit highlighted areas where the two regions could complement each other, including food security, with the Arab nations described as net importers of food, while South American nations were net exporters.

Latin American nations also presented themselves as rich in a variety of natural resources, but in need of Arab nations’ technologies and financing to exploit and develop those resources.

On social issues, Peru pledged to organize and host a conference on the role of women in society.

Speaking of ASPA’s vibrant future, Humala praised former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for spearheading the group’s creation, and announced the next summit would be hosted by Saudi Arabia in 2015.

During his 2003 tour of Arab nations, the former president noted the two regions, while geographically distant, had much in common in terms of culture, society and development, more so than either region had with traditional trade partners Europe and the United States.

He called for greater South-South cooperation between the two regions and formally established the group in 2004 with the help of the 12-member Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the 22-member Arab League.

Commerce between the two regions has almost tripled since ASPA’s creation, up from 11 billion U.S. dollars to 30 billion dollars in 2008.
Editor: Tang Danlu

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