Arab FMs open ministerial committee ahead of Beirut economic summit

 Arab FMs open ministerial committee ahead of Beirut economic summit

BEIRUT (Rahnuma): The Arab Ministerial Committee for the preparation of the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit opened its session on Friday.

During the session, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called on restoring Syria’s membership in the Arab League (AL).

“We should not create gaps in the relations among Arab countries. The biggest gap today is Syria. We can greatly feel the burden of its absence among us today,” Bassil said.

Arab countries should not wait for the permission of other countries to allow the return of Syria to the AL, he added.

“We call upon you to always support Lebanon because Lebanon has never stopped working in the interest of Arab countries,” Bassil told the session.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called on Arab countries to boycott all companies that deal with Israel.

He said Arab countries have tremendous economic capacity as the rest of the world hoping to benefit from their natural resources.

“We should appreciate our capacity and play an effective role in impacting the decisions taken by the international community that go in parallel with our economic power,” he said.

“Israel is adopting policies that aim at stealing our resources such as water, gas and agriculture wealth … Israel is stealing the money of Palestinians through taxes,” he added.

Al-Maliki urged Arab countries to invest in Palestine which is characterized by enormous opportunities of investing in different fields.

“This will create an economic independence for Palestine,” he said.

For his part, AL Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said the challenges facing the Arab region in development require a new vision that goes hand in hand with the technological advancements in the world.

Aboul-Gheit emphasized the need for an Arab integration which will enable countries to coordinate their strategies in food security, poverty elimination and the protection of women’s rights.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim reiterated Aboul-Gheit’s remarks by saying the Arab strategy should focus on food security in the Arab world in addition to eradication of poverty.

Al-Hakim also called for the creation of development projects in countries hosting Syrian refugees such as Lebanon and Jordan.

“This will lessen the burden of the presence of a big number of refugees in these countries,” he noted.

The Arab Economic and Social Development Summit aims to discuss primarily the development issues in the Arab world.

The summit, organized by the AL, is scheduled on Jan. 20 in Lebanon’s capital Beirut.

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