Qatar hosts Latin American leaders

Second Latam-Arab summit follows on the heels of Arab League meeting in Doha.

    Chavez is among the eight South American
    leaders attending the Doha summit [EPA]

    The two regions also each include a major oil producer, with Saudi Arabia and Venezuela both among the world's top oil exporters.

    Trade between the two blocs has almost tripled since the first summit in Brasilia in 2005.

    "Recently there has been a strong wish to increase commercial exchanges between the two regions, where aggregate GDP reached more than four trillion dollars in 2008," Faisal bin Qassem Al Thani, president of the Qatar businessman's association, was quoted by Qatar's al-Sharq newspaper as saying.

    He said that the Arab world and South America together make up 10.5 per cent of the world's population and as such represent a major potential market for businesses in either region.

    Arab diplomats said the summit will consider creating a joint mechanism of financial cooperation to reduce the impact of the global economic crisis.

    Palestinian ties

    Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, will be among eight South American leaders attending the summit.

    During Israel's 22-day war on Gaza at the beginning of the year, Venezuela expelled Israel's ambassador to the country and a wave of support for the Palestinians swept across Latin America.

    The Palestinian Authority has said it will open a diplomatic representative office in Caracas next month.

    Meanwhile, Argentina, represented by Cristina Kirchner, the Argentinean president, is reportedly seeking support from Arab countries in a renewed dispute with the UK over the Falkland Islands.

    Argentina continues to claim the Falklands 27 years after the two countries went to war over the South Atlantic islands.

    Also planning to attend the summit is Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president and the summit's South American co-ordinator.

    It was the Brazilian leader who first proposed the idea of the Latam-Arab meeting during a visit to the Middle East in 2003.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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